LAS VEGAS — Dr. Louis Fink of the Desert Research Institute is part of an international team that has shown for the first time that boosting a protein pathway in the body’s circulation system can act as a protection against potentially fatal radiation poisoning.
The breakthrough is published in the journal Nature Medicine. Treatment with thrombomodulin, or activated protein C, helps blood making cells survive radiation toxicity even if applied after radiation exposure.
The research was based upon observations by Fink and Dr. Martin Hauer-Jensen, of the University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences, over the past 15 years, on the cell surface receptor protein thrombomodulin after radiation injury. The natural cell surface receptor thrombomodulin is involved in anticoagulation and the thrombomodulin-protein C system can promote the production, migration and healthy function of blood forming cells.
The treatment with thrombomodulin could revolutionize the way radiation exposure is treated and may have implications for restoring the blood forming cells after bonemarrow transplantation. The studies presented were done in mice and need to be further studied for applicability in humans.
The work was led by Harmut Geiger, Ph.D. at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Ulm in Germany and Harmut Weiler, Ph.D. at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Blood Center of Wisconsin. Also key to the paper’s findings were researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.; the Hannover Medical School in Germany; and PAION Deutschland in Aachen, Germany.