University of Maryland School of Medicine research leads to FDA approval of drug for radiation sickness

The University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) said Friday that its research has allowed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a drug from the 1990s for radiation sickness treatment.

The research led by Professor Thomas MacVittie and Assistant Professor Ann Farese shows that Neupogen is effective in counteracting radiation damage to the bone marrow. This damage would normally decrease the amount of white blood cells being produced in the body. The drug has been on the market since 1991 and has been used to alleviate damage from chemotherapy in cancer patients.

"Our research shows that this drug works to increase survival by protecting blood cells," MacVittie said. "That is a significant advancement because the drug can now be used as a safe and effective treatment for the blood cell effects of severe radiation poisoning."

With FDA approval in this context, it will allow easier access to the drug should a nuclear accident occur. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Developmental Authority are looking into other medications in order to see their efficacy against radiation related sickness or injury.

"In terms of both research and treatment, our department is leading the way in developing the most effective discovery-based clinical applications to help protect and heal patients,"  Professor and Chair of the UM SOM Radiation Oncology Department William Regine said.

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Loyola University Maryland

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