A nuclear incident puts people who are exposed to nuclear radiation at a great risk, no question about it. One incident can potentially injure or even kill a huge number of people. This has posed a growing worldwide concern and researchers have kept on looking for ways to prevent bodily damages due to radiation.

Now, a new drug has been developed to fight the effects of radiation to the human body, which is highly effective even when given a day after a patient has been exposed to nuclear radiation.

An interdisciplinary team led by researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston developed a new drug which, with just a single injection, fights the effects of a lethal exposure to radiation. Effects of this regenerative peptide were discussed in a paper published online in the Nature Publishing group journal Laboratory Investigation.

Carla Kantara, a biochemistry and molecular biology postdoctoral fellow at UTMB and the study's lead author, said that TP508, when given to mice in a single injection 24 hours after the mice have been exposed to a potentially lethal nuclear radiation, increases survival rates by counteracting the radiation's damaging effects to the gastrointestinal (GI) system, and delays mortality.

GI toxicity syndrome caused by damage in the intestinal lining due to radiation is one of the most severe effects of exposure to nuclear radiation. When the intestinal lining is destroyed or damaged, the body becomes unable to absorb water. Radiation-induced GI toxicity syndrome leads to electrolyte imbalance, intestinal leakage, bacterial infection, sepsis and may even cause death. This puts a stop or slows down continuously replenishing crypt cells found in the colon and small intestine, which are supposed to help the GI tract function properly. Especially susceptible to damage caused by radiation, crypt cells indicate survival after the body has been totally exposed to radiation.

In their study, the researchers saw peptide as an effective emergency countermeasure for nuclear radiation, showing high survival rates when injected one day after exposure. Kantara noted that this gives nuclear radiation victims enough time to reach a facility that can provide them "advanced medical treatment."

The TP508 peptide drug was developed to stimulate skin, bone and muscle tissue repairs. Previously, the drug was shown to simulate proper blood flow and reduce inflammation and death of cells. In drug trials for humans, TP508 was also shown to increase the rate of healing in diabetic foot ulcers, along with wrist fractures, without adverse effects. 

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