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UAMS Gets $3.4M Grant to Study Radiation Injuries

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UAMS has received a $3.4 million federal grant to study radiation injuries caused by nuclear accidents and bioterrorism.

The five-year study aims to encourage drug development for therapies that will reduce the effects of such injuries. The FDA has already approved drugs to alleviate bone marrow injuries in people exposed to radiation, but there is no drug available to treat its effects on organs.

Rupak Pathak, a UAMS professor of pharmaceutical sciences, said a five-year study will focus on how platelets moderate immune response after radiation exposure. By modifying the platelets, scientists believe they could reduce or block damage to organs. 

“If there is something we can apply after exposure that will prevent immune dysfunction, we have a good chance of limiting injuries in several organs,” he said in a news release.

Patahk is co-leading the study with Martin Cannon, a UAMS professor of microbiology and immunology, and Jerry Ware, a UAMS professor of physiology and cell biology.

“We know that platelets have a couple of pathways that might influence radiation damage,” Cannon said. “We want to understand how to regulate those pathways and lessen the inflammatory response. In very simple terms, we’re looking for the on and off switch.”

The grant is provided through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

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