After a nuclear meltdown, it’s important that those exposed to harmful radiation receive treatment as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the window of treatment can be quite small. But researchers are working on a new drug that could be effective even 72 hours after radiation exposure, and this could be a big deal.

In 2007, researchers worked to develop a drug that would reduce harmful effects of radiation sickness in both bone marrow and the digestive system. Unfortunately, the drug wasn’t powerful enough to be useful to humans. However, this is a case where is seems that perseverance may have paid off! Researchers didn’t give up on the drug; instead, they used computer technology to adjust the molecular structure of the drug in the hopes of making it more effective.

When working with mice, they had some pretty promising results. Without treatment, 80-85% of mice didn’t make it past two weeks following radiation exposure. But after treatment with the new and improved drug, called DBIBB, 92-93% of mice were still alive two weeks after exposure. Possibly the most significant finding was that researchers were able to achieve these numbers even if they delayed treatment up to 72 hours.

If this treatment works in humans, it could be helpful for victims of radiation exposure. This type of drug could also potentially help protect astronauts from harmful cosmic rays. Read more about this research here.

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