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Jefferson researchers discover that nanoparticle shows promise in reducing radiation side effects

(PHILADELPHIA) Using transparent zebrafish embryos, researchers at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia have shown that a microscopic nanoparticle can help fend off damage to normal tissue from radiation. The nanoparticle, a soccer ball-shaped, hollow, carbon-based structure known as a fullerene, acts like an "oxygen sink," binding to dangerous oxygen radicals produced by radiation.

The scientists, led by Adam P. Dicker, M.D., Ph.D., and Ulrich Rodeck, M.D., see fullerenes as a potentially "new class of radioprotective agents." Dr. Dicker, recently appointed Vice-Chair for Translational Research of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, is associate professor of radiation oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. Dr. Rodeck is professor of dermatology at Jefferson Medical College. They will present their team's results April 5, 2006 at the annual meeting of American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.

While chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the standard treatments for cancer, they take their respective toll on the body. Radiation can damage epithelial cells and lead to permanent hair loss, among other effects, and certain types of systemic chemotherapy can produce hearing loss and damage to a number of organs, including the heart and kidneys. Some other side effects include esophagitis, diarrhea, and mouth and intestinal ulcers.

To date, only one drug, Amifostine, has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, to help protect normal tissue from the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Researchers would like to develop new and improved agents.

Dr. Dicker, director of the Division of Experimental Radiation Oncology at Jefferson Medical College, and his group were exploring the molecular mechanisms responsible for cellular damage from radiation. They collaborated with a Houston-based drug company, C Sixty, and studied its radiation
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Contact: Steve Benowitz
steven.benowitz@jefferson.edu
215-955-5291
Thomas Jefferson University
5-Apr-2006


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