News & AnalysisDevastation in Japan

Candidate Radiation Drugs Inch Forward

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Science  25 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6024, pp. 1505
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6024.1505

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Summary

Beyond potassium iodide, whose utility is limited to warding off thyroid cancer, the pharmaceutical industry has no proven drugs to ward off the devastating health effects of a large radiation exposure. Over the past 5 years, however, a few promising candidates have begun to undergo animal, and even human, testing. Still, only a few companies and academic groups are addressing this unmet need. The obvious lack of a commercial market may explain why. But some also blame the U.S. government's relative indifference toward the development of radiological countermeasures compared with biodefense.