BARDA signs $4 million agreement with BCN for radiation treatment studies

The U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority recently announced a $4 million cooperative agreement with the Pasadena, California-based BCN Biosciences for proof-of-concept studies on radiation damage prevention.

Under the terms of the two-year agreement, BCN and BARDA will examine how well a novel small molecule called Yel002 can protect DNA from damage after the body's cells are exposed to damaging levels of radiation. The novel small molecule could be used to increase the likelihood that cells in the gastrointestinal tract survive exposure to acute radiation.

Acute radiation syndrome is a serious illness that occurs when all or most of the body is exposed to a high dose of radiation, such as after a nuclear device is detonated. ARS can injure all the body's organs, including the lungs, bone marrow and gastrointestinal tract. The GI tract is very sensitive to radiation, but there is no preventive measure or treatment for this kind of ionizing radiation injury.

Survival in the first weeks following exposure to radiation primarily depends on the extent of injury to the GI tract and bone marrow.

Yel002 will be studied as a potential treatment for adults and children under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Animal Efficacy Rule. The product is the fourth in BARDA's development portfolio to treat GI-ARS. The molecule may also have applications in cancer treatment.