Two new drug candidates for treating radiation poisoning are uncovered in a study published online this week in Nature Medicine.
Hartmut Geiger and colleagues use a genetic screen to identify new regulators of radiation sensitivity in mice and discover that a pathway that controls blood clotting and inflammation unexpectedly provides protection against radiation damage. In this pathway, the protein thrombomodulin helps generate activated protein C, which has both anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory activities. The team found that intravenous infusion of recombinant forms of either thrombomodulin or activated protein C protected mice from death after total body radiation.
Both thrombomodulin and activated protein C have previously been used in humans for other conditions, suggesting they might be repurposed for treating radiation poisoning.