Russian molecular biologists working in the USA and Israel created a medicine which protects a human being against radiation. The new medicine will come into use in two or three years.
The Russian scientists discovered the formula to protect lab mice against penetrating nuclear radiation ten years ago, The Izvestia newspaper wrote.
“The substance acts upon gene p53 – the gene can be described as the cellular conscience. The gene controls the state of cells, observing any changes that can lead to the development of a tumor. If the gene detects any changes, it orders a cell to commit suicide – this is the programmed mechanism of death, known as apoptosis,” scientist Andrei Gudkov said.
The p53 gene is absent in a half of cancerous tumors – this is the reason why they multiply so quickly. If other cells were subjected to chemotherapy or radiation, the gene will detect those cells and makes them commit suicide too, which weakens the disease-stricken body.
The discovery of the Russian scientists means that they have found a switch to turn the cellular continuousness off.
“We could turn p53 off temporarily and reversibly with the use of the pifitrin-alpha compound. It allows to increase radiation therapy doses for patients harmlessly,” the scientist said.
The scientists have already completed the tests of the new medication on apes and humans. All the tests ended successfully.
Over 650 apes were exposed to maximum doses of radiation, similar to those, which the victims of the Chernobyl disaster suffered from. Only one group of the apes had injections of the new medication 24 hours before or 72 hours after the exposure. Seventy percent of the apes, which did not receive the medication, died. The ones that survived suffered from various illnesses.
All the apes, which were given the medication, survived. No dangerous consequences were registered with them afterwards.
The clinical trials on humans showed that the medicine was absolutely safe.
Once the second stage of trials is successful, the medicine will be permitted for use in 2010. The medicine will considerably expand cancer treatment opportunities and give hope to those who suffer from radiation-related man-made disasters.