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|Michael Jay - Ph.D.|
A drug therapy to protect the U.S. population from the consequences of nuclear terrorism is being pioneered by scientists at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded Michael Jay, professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the UK College of Pharmacy, $3.96 million over the next two years to develop an orally administered treatment to be used in radiation emergencies such as after exposure to radiological dispersion devices (RDDs) or dirty bombs.
This grant comes in response to the encouraging results from Jay's initial study in 2005 for which the NIH awarded him $1.2 million. Jay and his colleagues, Robert Yokel, professor and associate dean for research and graduate education, Patrick McNamara, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Russ Mumper, professor and director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery at the University of North Carolina, began synthesizing a series of compounds and quickly focused in on one that they will continue to study in the current product development phase.
Internal exposure to radioactive material from the detonation of dirty bombs constitutes a health hazard because of the continuous emission of radioactivity to radiosensitive tissues and subsequent development of cell death, organ dysfunction and cancer. Internalization of radioactive material may occur via inhalation, ingestion or through contamination of open wounds which can be transported through the body via the blood.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that a drug called DTPA (diethylenetriaminepentaacetate) is safe and effective for the treatment of internal contamination. Currently, DPTA is not absorbed very well when administered orally, thus, it must be administered intravenously. The ultimate goal of Jay's study is to develop a highly bioavailable form of DTPA that can be administered orally, can be stored in the Strategic National Stockpile, is stable and has a long shelf-life, can be distributed to the at-risk population in a short period of time, can be self-administered with little risk of toxicity, and can effectively remove radioactivity from a contaminated individual. An orally bioavailable form of DTPA offers many advantages over an injectable form, such as, greater stability, less expense in manufacturing, no need for a trained professional to administer the dose and no risk of bacterial contamination.
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