A cure for radiation sickness?

radioactive materials hazard signHey, great news! A group of researchers have discovered a medicine that can alleviate the damaging effects of radiation sickness… at least in mice and monkeys:

The first series of tests included experiments on more than 650 monkeys. Each test featured two groups of monkeys exposed to radiation, but only one group was given the medication. The radiation dosage was equal to the highest dosage sustained by humans as result of the Chernobyl mishap.

The experiment’s results were dramatic: 70% of the monkeys that did not receive the cure died, while the ones that survived suffered from the various maladies associated with lethal nuclear radiation. However, the group that did receive the anti-radiation shot saw almost all monkeys survive, most of them without any side-effects. The tests showed that injecting the medication between 24 hours before the exposure to 72 hours following the exposure achieves similar results.

Isn’t that brilliant news? Think of all the great things we could achieve if we could prevent radiation from damaging the human body! As its lead hook, Ynetnews gleefully trumpets about the geopolitical edge that this medicine will give to Israel in dealing with their ongoing paranoia about uppity Muslims with nuclear weapons, but follows with a more broadly humanitarian application:

Gudkov’s discovery may also have immense implications for cancer patients by enabling doctors to better protect patients against radiation. Should the new medication enable cancer patients to be treated with more powerful radiation, our ability to fight the disease could greatly improve.

Think also of clean-up operations in locations with similar problems to Chernobyl, or time spent in space beyond the Earth’s handy and life-saving magnetosphere. The list of places that people can’t go just got shorter. [via SlashDot; image by 7263255]

12 thoughts on “A cure for radiation sickness?”

  1. Before you go cheering too hard, consider the OTHER implication of this. What makes people strongly resistant to using nukes is the fact that spraying a nation with nuclear weapons results in radiation killing off huge portions of the population and makes the land uninhabitable. To have such weapons used against you is pure national destruction, and as a result people will go to great lengths to avoid being whacked by a nuke.

    Now, imagine if radiation was no longer a serious issue. This means that nukes just got a lot less lethal. Suddenly a few hundred nukes, while nothing to scoff at, are not nearly as scary. They might still eat 5-10 mile hunks out of your nation, but that is a pretty big improvement over leaving thousands of miles destroyed as they leaves big old 100 mile radius radiation dead zones.

    This could dramatically upset the ‘balance of arms’ far more then a few pithy American ICBM interceptors. Sure, the US could still blank a nation like Iran in pure death and so won’t upset that balance, but India and Pakistan on the other hand might find the nuclear equation has radically changed.

  2. Rindan, my impression is that this new medical technology addresses the relatively immediate threat of radiation sickness. I suspect that huge increases in one’s future cancer risk, due to the serious radiation exposure in question, are still present. So there would still be plenty of good reasons to avoid such radiation exposure! (Analogously, does the fact that skilled surgeons can often successfully re-attach severed limbs nowadays cause you to be less careful around table saws?)

  3. Maybe this could be helpful for space travel as well. Even a mission to the moon and back can potentially give you radiation sickness (depending on solar activity). Think of what a mission to Mars or beyond might entail.

  4. Surely you mean Rad Away 😛 But this shows great promise, especially in the medical and space exploration fields. I don’t think this will have the effect of making nuclear warfare a viable option though, there are still way too many other abhorrent factors to consider. Plus, you’ve seen how hard it is to get the flu vaccine to a large group of people in a month, I highy doubt any nation will realistically think they could deliver this to counteract massive radiation exposure amoung civilians in 24-72 hours.

  5. Uhh, right. If it’s on the internet it must be true.
    A more credible source might be necessary before you go spouting the benifits of the anti-radiation drug.

  6. The article refers to genuine research, mike, and no one’s claiming you can just walk into Chernobyl already; as with all science, the best you can do is discuss the potential. Apologies if you feel misled.

  7. Another maddoff type scam. I think it is better not to believe them until you actually hold the money in your hand in this case the “anti-radiation cure”.

    Remember the laser that shoot katyusha system, paid by the USA never materialized.

  8. Wait, wait. You mean this stuff will HELP people overcome cancer?

    Forget it. Drug companies cannot stand for people SURVIVING cancer.

  9. Clearly this has not been thought through, if the drug is injected into the body the cancer would gain immunity aswell it is not some mystical cluster fo cell that isn’t affected by drugs.

    The main benefit i believe is in future space exploration or even space settlement, i would like to buy a new condo on mars.

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