New Drug Hailed as “Countermeasure” for Nuclear Attack

( – With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its aggressions toward most of the West, many people believe that nuclear fallout is just a matter of time. Should this happen, the risk of ingesting radioactive material — especially if an attack happens with little warning — raises significantly, and it can have deadly health consequences.

The process of removing radioactive particles can be time-consuming, and should it happen in a mass casualty event, like a nuclear war, providing care to millions could prove difficult. However, there are currently human trials underway for a new drug — one that could be much easier to dole out should the worst come to pass.

HOPO 14-1

The current FDA-approved drugs available, both diethylenetriamine pentaacetate-based (DTPA), are administered intravenously. During a time of crisis, or when millions of people are affected, getting it to patients can be tedious when time is of the essence. The other perceived downfall is the existing drugs only remove three toxic, radioactive materials: curium, plutonium, and americium.

In contrast, the new drug in development, HOPO 14-1, clinically named 3,4,3-LI(1,2-HOPO), is an octadentate ligand, a chelating agent that binds to metal ions and removes them from the body. In addition to the aforementioned radioactive materials, HOPO 14-1 would also remove neptunium and uranium. Researchers have created it in capsule form, which would make distribution much quicker and more efficient. It’ll also be easier to stockpile. So far, testing has shown that the drug is up to 100 times more effective than the DTPA-based solutions.

HOPO 14-1, while not available on the market just yet, is not a recent concept. It’s been in development since 2006. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has been funding its discovery and development. The phase 1 trial is sponsored by SRI International.

Clinical Trials Underway

The clinical trials for HOPO 14-1 are taking place under the care of Sascha Goonewardena, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and a physician investigator at SRI’s Clinical Trials Unit. According to a media advisory by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the trial involves 42 participants, ranging from 18 to 65, broken into groups of six people each.

The plan is to study the groups to determine how well the body absorbs, distributes, and eliminates the drug. The initial phase involves the first set of six participants taking 100 mg of HOPO 14-1. Each subsequent group — providing the first dose is deemed safe — will increasingly higher amounts of the drug, all the way up to 7500 mg.

The NIAID expects to release the results of the study sometime in 2024. If it works as researchers hope, it could be a real breakthrough in a time when nuclear war is weighing heavily on the minds of many.

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