Pitt Researchers Get $2.7 Million For Radiation Drug

Issue Date: 
November 3, 2008


Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have been awarded $2.7 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Department of Health and Human Services, to develop a radiation mitigator drug that could counter the effects of radiation exposure in case of large-scale public exposure.

The ultimate goal of the contract is to develop an easily administered drug that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Department of Health and Human Services can store and fly to hospitals and care facilities if and when an emergency occurs.

A team of researchers led by Joel Greenberger, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology in Pitt’s  School of Medicine, will develop the GS-nitroxide drug JP4-039, identified by the Pitt research team in 2004 as a radioprotector. Using both mouse-model and human cell and tissue research, they have shown that the drug, when delivered 24 hours after irradiation, enhances cell recovery.

According to Greenberger, JP4-039 can be delivered directly to the mitochondria, the energy-producing areas of all cells. When this occurs, the drug assists the mitochondria in combating irradiation-induced cell death.

“Currently, no drugs on the market counteract the effects of radiation exposure,” said Greenberger, whose lab is part of the University’s Center for Medical Countermeasures.