Radiation-absorption tests under development could save lives in nuclear explosion

Direct measurement (like Becquerels) via blood samples described in the article sounds like the way to go.

The key to understand is that this is something that has never existed and we hope it never gets used,” Josh LaBaer, principal investigator and director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, told Homeland Preparedness News.

The tests could also have civilian applications as well, LaBaer said, such as in the event of industrial accidents at a nuclear power plant or in medical situations when people are exposed to excessive radiation.

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The U.S. government is funding the late-stage development of tests that would quickly determine how much radiation a person has absorbed in the event of a catastrophic nuclear explosion.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is sponsoring the development of tests that go beyond detecting whether radiation is on a person’s skin to determining the amount of radiation that has been absorbed into a person’s body.

The key to understand is that this is something that has never existed and we hope it never gets used,” Josh LaBaer, principal investigator and director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, told Homeland Preparedness News.

ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will provide more than $21.3 million over four years to develop the tests. Kansas City, Missouri-based MRIGlobal said in a written statement the contract could be extended for up to $100 million over 10 years.

MRIGlobal is partnering with Thermo Fisher Scientific and Arizona State University to lead the development of the program for BARDA. The agency also will provide more than $22.4 million in funding over two years to DxTerity Diagnostics based near Los Angeles.

The challenge was that in the event of a nuclear bomb in a major American city, there is an instantaneous release of high doses of gamma radiation, which is the type of radiation that travels through the air over large distances,” LaBaer said. “In that type of mass casualty event there would be lots of people who would need to be evaluated.”

The task for researchers was to develop a device that could quickly measure how much radiation large numbers of people had potentially absorbed into their organs and blood cells during a nuclear emergency. Devices currently available today can only detect radiation on the skin.

The amount of radiation that gets absorbed into the body has a direct implication on how that person gets triaged and managed,” LaBaer said. Absorption of a small or moderate dose of radiation could require medication, while a larger dose could require hospitalization and a potential bone marrow transplant.

BARDA is supporting development of the tests with the goal of potentially purchasing them from one or more of the companies for the Strategic National Stockpile.

After a six-year effort, the university has developed the ASU radiation (ARad) biodosimetry test, which would generate results in about eight hours and could be used on people who were exposed to radiation up to seven days after the event. HHS said the potential exists where 400,000 or more tests could be processed a week.

In the test, a blood sample is taken to isolate the white blood cells in order to collect the genes that have been exposed to radiation. Certain genes are more predictive when it comes to determining the amount of radiation the body was exposed to.

We were looking for the smallest number of genes we could use but that still were accurate in predicting dose depending on the time after the event,” LaBaer said.

Work to date has been based on animal studies and developing conversion factors to transfer to humans.

The tests could also have civilian applications as well, LaBaer said, such as in the event of industrial accidents at a nuclear power plant or in medical situations when people are exposed to excessive radiation.

https://homelandprepnews.com/featured/20018-radiation-absorption-tests-development-save-lives-nuclear-explosion/

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