DARPA requests information on mitigating ionizing radiation

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently released a request for information on novel approaches to the mitigation of immediate and long-term health effects from acute exposure to ionizing radiation.

DARPA seeks to better understand the biophysical effects of acute exposure to ionizing radiation and to develop technologies to improve immediate and long-term survival to radiation exposure. The notice requests information on novel therapies, protocols, devices, methods, systems and compounds related to the goals of safeguarding human health against ionizing radiation.

"Researchers have had some success in developing treatments to prevent near-term death from acute ionizing radiation sickness, but there's still a lot to be learned about specifically how the chronic effects of exposure play out within the body," Mildred Donlon, a program manager in DARPA's Defense Sciences Office, said. "We're hopeful that with increased understanding the immediate treatments for exposure can be made more effective and that we can develop novel therapies and strategies for enhancing long-term survival. There are many facets to this challenge and DARPA needs input from many fields so that we can find the synergies that may exist at the boundaries between fields. If we're successful in this research, we might be able to limit at least some of the destructive power of ionizing radiation."

Exposure to ionizing radiation can occur in the aftermath of a large-scale release of nuclear material, which might occur after a deliberate attack or a natural disaster.

The Fukushima nuclear reactor damage after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan raised concerns about U.S. preparedness to treat human exposure to ionizing radiation. The destructive potential of radiological and nuclear weapons remains a concern of the U.S. Department of Defense.

The RFI requests proposals by April 3.

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