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In search of new radioprotectors

Unique drugs that are able to protect human organisms from ionizing radiation action are being developed by specialists of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Russian Federal Nuclear Center – All-Russian Scientific Research of Experimental Physics” (Sarov) and their colleagues, chemists of the Lomonosov State University (Moscow) and the St. Petersburg Chemical-Pharmaceutical Academy.

Researchers have already discovered compounds, radioprotective characteristics of which, at lower toxicity, exceed all compounds known so far. However, investigations have not been finished yet. The search for new radioprotectors (effective, innocuous and low-cost ones), as well as compounds that increase radio-therapy efficiency for cancer treatment, is going on. Information about this very important development was placed by the ISTC experts on the International Science and Technology Center’s site, in the advanced research section.

Generally, many countries of the world are searching compounds that are able to protect human beings and animals from ionizing radiation. However, the results of this effort remain pretty moderate. Known substances that are potentially suitable for practical use are few and none of them meets all requirements to drugs.

“Even the most efficient radioprotectors from well-known ones, - explains project manager, I. Korzeneva, Ph.D. (Biology), - for example, cystamine (the substance used for treatment of acute radiation sickness) either did not protect sufficiently from exposure to radiation or were too toxic. Besides, in the majority of cases, these drugs possess prophylactic (introduction prior to irradiation), but not therapeutic (introduction after irradiation) action. We suggest that the range of compounds should be extended, among which we hope to find not only efficient radioprotectors with prophylactic, therapeutic and immunomodulatory action, but also radiation sensitizers reinforcing ionizing radiation of tumor cells. We expect that new drugs will possess high bioavailability and low toxicity, and it will be possible to perform their synthesis based on domestic raw materials, and this will tell upon cost.”

It should be noted that researchers’ assurance is fully justified. Now, the authors have already managed to synthesize compounds, radioprotective properties of which are much higher than those of cystamine, active leucostimulators and antineoplastic drugs. Experiments have proved that these substances protect from death irradiated laboratory animals or extend their lifetime. Besides, the researchers have synthesized new immunomodulators, antioxidants and antihypoxic agents, which are similar or more efficient as compared to the known ones.

The researchers’ short-term plans are as follows: to discover several most promising drugs and to develop quick, efficient, low-stage and low-cost methods of their synthesis. It is also necessary to make the required amount of drugs for preclinical trials. To minimize time and effort spent on search of new compounds with predetermined properties, the authors are planning to engage computer simulation techniques.

Thus, in case of proper funding, drugs for protection of staff of nuclear power-stations, radioactive waste processing enterprises, and eventually, cosmonauts, will be not only developed but also synthesized likewise drugs for radio-therapy of oncological diseases, which are able to fight against malignant cells without injuring healthy cells.

Nadezda Markina | alfa
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