Recent achievements by AFRRI researchers include:
Demonstration that radiation induces signals in cells that line blood vessels. These radiation-induced signals inhibit the survival of infection-fighting white blood cells.
Development of a panel of blood biomarkers to assess severity of radiation injury and predict outcome. Rapid, easy assessments of radiation injury are required to guide medical treatment, especially in a mass casualty scenario. Successful biomarkers have been identified in a variety of species. Mathematical algorithms were developed that utilize multiple parameters to predict clinical outcome after radiation exposure. AFRRI is working with a private company to produce a portable instrument that can rapidly assess these biomarkers outside the hospital environment.
Expansion of knowledge of Vitamin E-related molecules (tocols) as radiation countermeasures. It was demonstrated that tocols can be used to mobilize blood-forming cells from bone marrow, and that these cells can be used to enhance survival after radiation exposure.
Identification of countermeasures that enhance survival in animals experiencing combined radiation injury and other injuries such as wound and burn (“combined injury”). This work is especially challenging because most countermeasures effective against radiation alone have been ineffective against combined injury. AFRRI demonstrated success for combined injury treatment with the following agents: ciprofloxacin (acting via mechanisms other than its wellknown antimicrobial action), ghrelin (a gastrointestinal hormone) and tocolmobilized blood cell progenitors.
A collaborative project, funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, will test the radioprotective efficacy of a synthetic Mn-antioxidant peptide in mice. The research involves Dr. Radha Maheshwari and Dr. Michael Daly, both of USU’s Department of Pathology, and Dr. Juliann Kiang of AFRRI. The project is based on new insights implicating the proteome as the critical target in irradiated cells. Providing a remarkable example of USU’s scientific dedication, Daly’s group, which developed the peptide, has been studying the molecular basis of extreme radiation resistance in the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans since 1992.
The institute is also engaged in education efforts, providing medical training and emergency response capabilities to manage incidents related to radiation exposure.