Mitigating the risk of radiation-induced cancers: Limitations and paradigms in drug development

Stephen S. Yoo, Timothy J. Jorgensen, Ann R. Kennedy, John D. Boice, Alla Shapiro, Tom C.C. Hu, Brian R. Moyer, Marcy B. Grace, Gary J. Kelloff, Michael Fenech, Pataje G.S. Prasanna, C. Norman Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The United States radiation medical countermeasures (MCM) programme for radiological and nuclear incidents has been focusing on developing mitigators for the acute radiation syndrome (ARS) and delayed effects of acute radiation exposure (DEARE), and biodosimetry technologies to provide radiation dose assessments for guiding treatment. Because a nuclear accident or terrorist incident could potentially expose a large number of people to low to moderate doses of ionising radiation, and thus increase their excess lifetime cancer risk, there is an interest in developing mitigators for this purpose. This article discusses the current status, issues, and challenges regarding development of mitigators against radiation-induced cancers. The challenges of developing mitigators for ARS include: the long latency between exposure and cancer manifestation, limitations of animal models, potential side effects of the mitigator itself, potential need for long-term use, the complexity of human trials to demonstrate effectiveness, and statistical power constraints for measuring health risks (and reduction of health risks after mitigation) following relatively low radiation doses (<0.75 Gy). Nevertheless, progress in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms resulting in radiation injury, along with parallel progress in dose assessment technologies, make this an opportune, if not critical, time to invest in research strategies that result in the development of agents to lower the risk of radiation-induced cancers for populations that survive a significant radiation exposure incident.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R25-R52
JournalJournal of Radiological Protection
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Radiation-induced cancer
  • radiation mitigator
  • radiation risk
  • radioprotector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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