Drug found to counter radiation exposure if administered within 24 hours Could prove a life-saver in emergencies like Fukushima.
Even outside the nightmare scenario of a nuclear war, the continuing fallout stemming from the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan serves as an alarming reminder of the harmful effects of radiation. However, new research suggests that the deadly effects of radiation can be significantly countered if an existing medication called TP508 is administered up to 24 hours after radiation exposure.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in the US have found that a single injection of TP508 – a regenerative peptide drug that stimulates repair of skin, bone, and muscle tissues – significantly delayed mortality in mice that had been exposed to a potentially lethal amount of radiation. If it were to have the same effect on radiation-exposed humans, which is likely, TP508 could be used as an immediate aid for people in situations like Fukushima.
“The current results suggest that the peptide may be an effective emergency nuclear countermeasure that could be delivered within 24 hours after exposure to increase survival and delay mortality, giving victims time to reach facilities for advanced medical treatment,” said Carla Kantara, lead author of the research, in astatement to the press.
The drug increases radiation survival chances by counteracting damage to the gastrointestinal system, which is the most lethal effect of exposure to radiation. Gastrointestinal toxicity syndrome, which results from radiation destroying the lining of the intestine, decreases the body’s ability to absorb water and leads to infections, intestinal leakage, and ultimately death.
“The lack of available treatments that can effectively protect against radiation-induced damage has prompted a search for countermeasures that can minimise the effects of radiation after exposure, accelerate tissue repair in radiation-exposed individuals, and increase the chances for survival following a nuclear event,” said Darrell Carney, co-author of the research. “Because radiation-induced damage to the intestines plays such a key role in how well a person recovers from radiation exposure, it’s crucial to develop novel medications capable of preventing GI damage.”
Fortunately, that’s what TP508 appears to be. In previous human trials, the medication was shown to increase the rate of healing in diabetic foot ulcers and wrist fractures, with no drug-related negative side effects. Of course, researchers won’t get a chance to confirm whether TP508 has the same beneficial effect on humans exposed to radiation as it does on mice until the next nuclear emergency arises, but it’s great to know that scientists are now aware of the potentially life-saving properties of this medication.
The Elephant’s Foot of the Chernobyl disaster, 1986
A monster was born in the Chernobyl disaster - one of the most dangerous things in the world.
The “Elephant’s Foot” is a solid mass made of melted nuclear fuel mixed with lots and lots of concrete, sand, and core sealing material that the fuel had melted through. It is located in a basement area under the original location of the core. In 1986 the radiation level on the Elephant’s Foot was measured at 10,000 roentgens per hour, and anyone who approached would have received a fatal dose in under a minute. After just 30 seconds of exposure, dizziness and fatigue will find you a week later. Two minutes of exposure and your cells will soon begin to hemorrhage; four minutes: vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. At 300 seconds you have two days to live.
When the above photo was taken, 10 years after the disaster, the Elephant’s Foot was only emitting one-tenth of the radiation it once had. Still, merely 500 seconds of exposure would prove fatal.
You may have seen some photos similar to this one going around claiming that there are mutant daisies in Nasushiobara, a city about 170km from the site of the March 2011 Fukishima nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan. The photos are probably real, but the claim that they have been mutated by radiation most likely isn’t.
This photo was taken in a cow pasture in Island Park, Idaho. The flowers are Wyethia helianthoides or White Mule’s Ear. The one on the right looks very similar to the daisies in the Fukishima photos, and there definitely haven’t been any nuclear meltdowns anywhere near Island Park. So what’s going on?
The flowers are showing fasciation (also called cresting) – a not-that-rare condition that is known to occur in over 100 species of vascular plants throughout the world. Fasciation is abnormal growth in the growing tip of the plant which causes it to elongate. It may also cause an increase in the affected area’s weight and size. Cresting can be caused by hormonal imbalance, genetic mutation, infections, and environmental factors. A perennial that shows fasciation one year, may grow with or without it the next year.
A 2009 study by Japan’s National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences demonstrated that it is possible for gamma-irradiation to induce stem fasciation, but the occurrence was <0.1 percent. So it is possible that radiation is responsible for the cresting in the Nasushiobara daisies, but it’s much more likely that it happened due to something else.
Either way, photos of fasciation are fascinating! Sorry – I’ll see myself out now.
You’ve probably seen negative ion
bracelets before: colorful loops of silicon promoting the ability to
increase balance, reduce pain and restore energy. But we have bad news: Folks who wear
negative-ion bracelets are getting three times more radiation every day
than the average American. The radiation equivalent is pretty frightening.
This week came welcome news that animal populations in Ukraine’s Chernobyl Exclusion Zone had rebounded tremendously, despite living in an area that nearly 30 years ago was the site of a horrific nuclear power accident.
The 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl created an evacuation area of some 1,000 square miles, removing humans from the equation and leaving animals to their own devices.
Animals ranging from feral cats to horses to fish seem to be getting by, after the fallibility of man left them a contaminated place to call their own. Here we take a look at some of the wildlife currently making a living in the “zone.”