Development of Anti-Radiation Drugs

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After the impact of ionizing and nonionizing radiation, manifold health impairments may take place, including thyroid, blood, eye, and skin damages, leukaemia, cancer of different organs, and a great many of other diseases. Though several attempts have been made in the past to discover anti-radiation medicines, only marginal effects have been observed.

The impact of reactive oxygen species (ROS, highly reactive radicals such as •OH and O2•-), e.g. produced by X- or gamma-irradiation or radioactive isotopes, and of UV light on many low-molecular and macromolecular compounds and fluids of biological interest has been investigated by various physicochemical techniques. Studies of many biopolymers (proteins, polysaccharides, nucleic acids, lipids) revealed numerous changes of the local and global structure of the constituents under analysis (mainly aggregation), together with alterations of their functional ability.

By means of certain measures and a variety of additives (e.g. antioxidants), manifold modifications of the impact of ROS and radiation can be achieved. Caused by differences in the primary reactions, biopolymers are protected effectively by typical •OH scavengers against ROS and X/gamma-irradiation, whereas compounds exhibiting significant absorption behavior in the UV range ("chemical filters") turn out to act as potent protectives against UV light. A few substances provide protection against both sorts of radiation and are able to provide a chemical repair of already damaged particles, even after days.

Combining the above results regarding damaging events and protection and repair possibilities of biomolecules and the professional know-how of many fields provides the scientific basis for understanding the occurrence of a variety of effects of ROS and radiation on biomolecules, together with possibilities to avoid or modify the detrimental effects effectively.

The results obtained are of importance for many fields: (i) Understanding the interaction between radiation and biological matter on the molecular level, (ii) understanding and avoiding pathological alterations of biomolecules, (iii) development of novel strategies for the protection and repair of biomolecules, e.g., in context with the bioprotection of eyes and skin and the aging of biomolecules, (iv) application and development of anti-radiation medications or of nutritional supplements, e.g. in context with precautions to prevent or alleviate damages caused by nuclear accidents (in particular by the long-lived radioactive isotope Cs-137, a gamma-ray emitter) or aerospace travel. Any anti-radiation drug, minimizing the consequences of ioinizing radiation (radioactive isotopes) should exhibit the following features: high protecting efficiency of appropriate additives (preferably bioprotectants) against ROS (mainly •OH radicals produced by water radiolysis), additives must reach the respective target organs, suppression of further radiation damage, at least a partial (bio)chemical repair of already damaged particles, initiation of some kind of biological restoration cycle (restoration of already consumed protective agents), drugs should be harmless (even when administered in high doses for a long time) and cheap. In doing so, we achieved in developing potential anti-radiation pills for people affected by nuclear disasters or for the prevention of imminent hazards, stopping noxious reactions already on the molecular level and enhancing the natural defense system in our body (provided by some antioxidants and antioxienzymes).


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  • Name:
    Helmut Durchschlag
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  • Helmut's hobbies and activities:
    Science, astrobiology, origin of life; travelling, languages; mountain climbing
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    LinkedIn, ResearchGate
  • Helmut is inspired by:
    Combination of different fields of science
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