Anti-radiation pills: forget the fridge, bring on the nuke

Not all of us are clever enough to jump into a fridge when we see a nuke heading our way. Post-nuke, then, we're left with two options: succumbing to radiation sickness, or morphing into radiation zombies. A new medication called Ex-RAD now presents a third option, which is to take it and then be just fine afterwards.

The conventional methods of treating radiation poisoning are primarily to just do your level best to not get exposed to too much radiation, utilizing protective clothing and surface decontamination and careful monitoring. If things get bad anyway, there are some treatments for symptoms, but nothing that really goes after the root of the problem: your DNA has been trashed and your cells are freaking out killing themselves.

Onconova Therapeutics has developed and successfully tested a new type of medication that it's calling Ex-RAD that's apparently able to treat radiation sickness much more effectively, whether taken prophylactically before exposure or therapeutically after. Onconova hasn't had a chance to test the efficacy of people yet (since doing so would involve potentially lethal doses of radiation), but it doesn't have any significant side-effects and works wonders in an animal model: after exposing a group of mice to 8 Gy of gamma rays (which is enough to kill 95% of living things within two weeks), the ones that were given some Ex-RAD to munch on boasted a survival rate of 88%.

Ex-RAD works through a "novel mode of action" that "involves the enhancement of cellular DNA repair pathways and key elements of the DNA damage cascade in response to harmful radiation." Basically, it helps prevent DNA from getting torn up in the first place, helps DNA that has been damaged repair itself, and suppresses a protein that triggers cell death. It works best when administered in pill form, making it easy for mass distribution in the event of a nuclear apocalypse Friday after next.

I have a feeling these pills, like all new medications, are going to be absurdly expensive to start off with, but maybe down the road they'll become cheap enough that every time you get an X-ray or a CT scan or fly in an airplane or eat a banana, you'll pop an Ex-RAD pill just to be on the safe side.

Oconova, via io9

*DVICE would like to remind you that getting nuked is rarely, if ever, a good idea, no matter what medication you're currently taking or which kitchen appliances are readily available.

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