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Radiation Protection

May 1, 2008

Scientists are taking lessons from tumor cells to fight the damaging effects of radiation and chemotherapy.


Learning from tumors…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Chemotherapy and radiation can be powerful weapons against cancer. But they harm healthy cells as well. Cells of the immune system and G.I. tract are especially vulnerable: instead of repairing the damage, they respond by committing cellular suicide. In contrast, tumor cells have mutations that make them resistant to cell death. Roswell Park Cancer Institute researcher Andrei Gudkov and his colleagues recently harnessed this property to create a new drug.

ANDREI GUDKOV (Roswell Park Cancer Institute):
We decided, why can’t we learn from the tumor? Why can’t we just imitate tumor tricks pharmacologically?

The drug is made from a modified bacterial protein. When given in conjunction with radiation or chemotherapy, it keeps healthy cells from dying, and helps them recover from damage. After each treatment, the cells become normal again. Clinical trials are slated for later this year. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.