New study gives insight to developing medical treatment to counter radiation

A new study, led by Michael J. Daly, Ph.D. of the Uniformed Services University and Brian Hoffman, Ph.D. of Northwestern University, revealed the structure of Deinococcus radiodurans, which gives insight to combating radiological weapons.

D. radiodurans is the toughest microbe in the world. The researchers, using spectroscopy techniques, were able to see the structure of manganese-based chemical antioxidants inside D. radiodurans. The discovery may provide a foundation for slowing the aging process, reducing the probability of skin cancer, preventing some side effects of chemotherapy and more.

The bacterium was proven to survive immense exposure to gamma-radiation, ultraviolet radiation and radiological agents, which usually kills cells by creating dangerous oxygen radicals. Researchers were able to observe the process by which the cells defend themselves, which is the first step to recreating that step for practical function.

The research team found that most Mn2+ in D. Radiodurans cells partner with nitrogenous compants and inorganic phosphate to form radioprotective cells. Researchers also noted the Mn2+ complexes changed during radiological exposure and the team created a blueprint for this process, with the hopes of using it to develop an irradiated vaccine.

Both Daly and Hoffman, and their teams, have been working on this project for three years. The results were posted in the March 25 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.