The United States is conducting the first human trials of a new drug that could reverse the effects of radiation from a dirty bomb or nuclear accident.
HOPO 14-1 fights elements that can be used to make dirty bombs, which are explosive devices containing radioactive material.
Dirty bombs differ from nuclear bombs in that they can only contaminate an area a few miles from the explosion, not a thousand miles.
Both drugs are made from diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) and have been used in people exposed to radiation.
Iodine tablets are also given to people exposed to radioactive iodine as a result of a nuclear accident, such as in Chernobyl in 1986.
But if proven safe and effective, HOPO 14-1 could be given to people in tablet form, which is much easier than the intravenous method in emergency situations.
It can also provide antidotes for elements more dangerous than iodine, including plutonium, americium, and urium.
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The first phase of the trial was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and conducted by SRI International in California.
It will be done on 42 healthy adults, aged 18 to 65, who will be given different doses of the drug.
They will be monitored for 14 days, with results expected in 2024.
weapons of mass destruction
Dirty bombs, also known as radioactive devices or RDDs, are classified by U.S. authorities as “weapons of mass destruction.”
They do far less damage than nuclear bombs or “weapons of mass destruction”. But if inhaled, ingested or exposed to an open wound, the substances they release can cause cancer, DNA and organ damage.
No dirty bomb attack was successful.
In 1996, Chechen rebels planted a bomb containing dynamite and radioactive cesium-137 in Moscow’s Izmailovo Park, but it was discovered and destroyed. Two years later, Chechen intelligence defused a dirty bomb left near a train line.
Al Qaeda members have also been arrested for plotting dirty bombs in the UK and US.
During Ukraine invasion, Russia claims Ukrainian troops plan to dirty bomb its own citizensbut this has been dismissed by the West as an “obvious mistake”.