SIR: Radiation protection supplement protects DNA

By Eric Barnes, staff writer

March 29, 2011 -- A new antioxidant formula earned high marks in a small study for protecting against DNA damage from radiation exposure, according to a presentation at this week's Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) annual meeting in Chicago.

The formulation -- taken orally before an imaging exam that uses ionizing radiation -- reduces cell damage by as much as half, according to Dr. Kieran Murphy, deputy chief of radiology at the University of Toronto, who presented the study.

The formula could play an important role for both "planned and unplanned exposure" to ionizing radiation, Murphy told

The study found that preadministering the proprietary antioxidant formulation resulted in "a notable dose-dependent reduction in DNA injury," Murphy said in a statement. In blood tests following exposure of ionizing radiation in vivo, use of the formula reduced the number of DNA double-strand breaks by as much as 50%, he said.

The small study showed that even though many antioxidants are poorly absorbed by the body, Murphy and his group's particular mixture was effective in protecting against the specific type of injury caused by medical imaging exams. However, the study included only two participants, who received the formula before their imaging exams, Murphy said. Larger studies are needed.

While similar in form and function to BioShield, another antioxidant formula used for radiation protection, the ingredient formulas are quite different, and the mixture from Murphy and colleagues is based on uric acid.

"Uric acid and precursors of uric acid ... are responsible for about 50% of our body's antioxidant abilities," he said.

Whether the new formula is the first on the block doesn't really matter. "It's a positive development ... that there are other people out there and that somebody else is thinking along the same lines -- it's reinforcing," said Murphy. Unlike BioShield, however, which is commercially available, the new formula remains in the investigational stages.

Murphy and his University of Toronto co-investigators, Dr. Joe Barfett and Dr. David Mikulis, hope to achieve approval and wider distribution of their formula within about two years' time.

The group has big plans for the development of the formula, including a randomized trial to test the efficacy of the formula in a larger cohort.

Presently "we have funding to do a 30-person study" of patients who will be given the agent before their imaging exams, Murphy said.

Eventually, the team plans to offer an inhalant form of the antioxidant combination for use during unplanned radiation exposure, as well as a pad coated with the formula to cover the skin during radiotherapeutic and interventional procedures, Murphy told

"Preadministering this formula before a medical imaging exam may be one of the most important tools to provide radioprotection and especially important for patients getting CT scans," Murphy said in his statement.

Copyright © 2011

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