Nature Medicine | Spoonful of Medicine

Nuclear leak reinforces need for drugs to combat radiation

By Cassandra Willyard In the aftermath of Japan’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami, evacuation centers surrounding the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station stockpiled nearly a quarter-million doses of potassium iodide as a preventative measure against radiation poisoning. These pills protect people from the long-term risks of thyroid cancer associated with chronic radiation exposure, but they do little to guard against the ill effects of high-dose radiation toxicity. Unfortunately, no drugs are currently approved to treat the extreme radiation sickness that plant workers or emergency personnel may experience. Yet, thanks to investment from the US government, several candidate compounds might 


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