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October 29, 2007

Researchers Discover Gene Therapy that Protects Against Radiation Exposure

  • Gene therapy administered intravenously could be an effective agent to protect vital organs and tissues from the effects of ionizing radiation in the event of large-scale exposure from a radiological or nuclear bomb, according to University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers

    “In previous studies, we demonstrated that gene therapy can be both swallowed in liquid form and inhaled through a nebulizer prior to radiation exposure to protect healthy tissues from damage. In this study, we found that the same therapy administered intravenously also offers protection during exposure to whole-body irradiation,” says Joel S. Greenberger, M.D., professor and chairman, department of radiation oncology. 

    The researchers examined the effects of a 9.5 Gy dose of radiation on a group of mice injected with manganese superoxide dismutase plasmid liposome (MnSOD-PL) prior to irradiation and a control. They found that 58% of mice in the control group survived after 30 days compared to 90% for the experimental group. Between 30 and 330 days, there were no differences in survival rates between the two groups, which indicated that systemic MnSOD-PL treatment was not harmful to survival, reported the investigators.

    The result were presented at the “49th annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology” in Los Angeles.