A medicine against radioactive contamination?


The nuclear risk is regularly evoked in the news, especially with the ongoing war in Ukraine. The American national research agencies have just announced the beginning of a trial involving a drug capable of eliminating radioactive contamination in humans.

Ionizing radiation is a form of energy released by atoms and propagated via electromagnetic waves or particles. There are several forms of radiation: alpha, beta, X, and gamma. There are two types of exposure to ionizing radiation: irradiation, in the case of external exposure, and contamination, for internal exposure, i.e., when radioactive elements are found within the body. Contamination can occur through injury, inhalation, or ingestion for example, with harmful consequences as DNA, tissues, and organs can be affected.

The drug being tested, HOPO 14-1, efficiently removes radioactive elements. A phase 1 trial will soon be launched to test the safety, the fate of the drug in the human body, and its tolerance. This study will be conducted on 42 participants divided into several groups receiving different doses of the drug.

Unlike DTPA, an injectable drug currently available in the event of a nuclear accident, HOPO 14-1 is being tested in capsule form to be taken orally, which has the advantage of being simpler to administer, store, and distribute in case of emergency. The first results of this study are expected to begin to be reported in 2024.