Bone Drugs May Thwart Deadly Effects of Radiation

April 20, 2009

(ChattahBox)—A new study using bone strengthening drugs offers hope to cancer patients, astronauts and military personnel, who are in danger of developing leukemia from long term exposure to harmful radiation. Researchers at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, treated mice exposed to radiation with the bone drugs, and only half developed leukemia, while the mice that came down with the deadly cancer, lived much longer than the untreated group.

Military Scientists have long searched for a treatment to protect its personnel from the deadly effects of long-term radiation exposure, suffered by many in the course of their military duties, such as serving on nuclear subs. The results of this military commissioned study will also help cancer patients, who are in danger of developing leukemia after extensive radiation treatments.

Head researcher, Alexandra Miller presented the exciting findings of the study to the American Association for Cancer Research in Denver, Colorado. She used a class of two drugs called bisphosphonates, similar to Procter & Gamble’s osteoporosis drug Didronel and Roche’s Boniva bone drug. Previous studies have shown that bisphosphonates may stop cancer spreading to bones and also purge uranium from those exposed to radiation.

The study showed that all of the untreated mice developed leukemia, dying within 92 to 110 days. Of the mice treated with the bone drugs, half showed no signs of leukemia, while the half that did come down with the cancer, lived longer at 150 to 170 days.

Clinical studies, using the drug treatment on humans are years away, but the bone drugs show great promise in protecting people from the deadly effects of radiation.

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