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NIH funds Berkeley Lab research on defense against radiological attack

BERKELEY, CA -- Kenneth Raymond of the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is the recipient of a $998,325 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), as principal investigator of a program to develop new agents for large scale radiological treatment of humans, for example in the aftermath of a "dirty bomb" attack. The grant is one of five awards announced today under the federal government's Project Bioshield. NIAID is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Raymond, a member of Berkeley Lab's Chemical Sciences Division (CSD) and a professor of chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, heads a team including Pat Durbin-Heavey and David Shuh of CSD, Eleanor Blakely of Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division, and Polly Chang of SRI International.

"We're developing actinide-specific complexing agents for decontaminating people who may have been exposed to plutonium or similar radioactive substances," says Raymond. The goal of the NIAID-sponsored project is to test these agents with animals, which will be done by SRI International, and then proceed to clinical trials, all within 18 months.

Since joining Berkeley Lab in 1973, and UC Berkeley in 1967, part of Raymond's research has concentrated on finding chemical agents that can safely remove concentrations of poisonous metal ions from the human body. To do this he has designed chemical compounds modeled after those manufactured by bacteria and other microorganisms to transport iron. Raymond's synthetic agents bind tightly with plutonium and allow it to be passed through the kidneys and excreted out of the body, a process known as "decorporation." The agents may also prove useful for removing radioactive waste from the environment.

Raymond, former Chair of the Department of Chemistry of UC Berkeley, is the Director of CSD's Glenn T. Seaborg Center, which studies heavy element chemistry at the mol
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Contact: Paul Preuss
paul_preuss@lbl.gov
510-486-6249
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
25-Sep-2006


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