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The Making of Medicine

Reducing the Threat of Radiation (and Terrorism)

Right now, there’s no real treatment for radiation exposure. If you are exposed to a fatal dose and don’t die right away, the best doctors can do is try to ease your suffering until you do die. That’s scary to think about, especially in an age when terrorists are actively working to get their hands on radioactive materials. If they did, they might try to make a dirty bomb, or dump the radioactive material into the water supply, or otherwise use it to expose large numbers of people. And there wouldn’t be much we could do in the aftermath. But researchers here at UVA are working to change that. John Lazo, PhD, and Beth Sharlow, PhD, of our Department of Pharmacology, have been on the hunt for a radiation antidote. They’ve been screening existing drugs to try to find a combination that would help cells survive radiation exposure long enough for the body to repair the radiation damage. Let’s wish these two drug hunters the best of luck, even as we hope we never need the fruits of their research.

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