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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


HHS News U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

BARDA Funds Development of Drug to Prevent Radiation Lung Injury

June 1, 2011:  The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) today announced a two-year, $3.5 million contract with Humanetics Corp. of Eden Prairie, Minn., to develop a drug that may prevent lung injury caused by exposure to high levels of ionizing (damaging) radiation from a nuclear detonation.
Today’s contract supports preliminary efficacy studies prior to clinical trials, which would be the next stage of development for the drug BIO 300, also called genistein. Genistein is a naturally occurring chemical known as an isoflavone, derived from soy products, that has been investigated as an anticancer agent and which behaves as an antioxidant. The studies are needed to show whether the drug is likely to be effective and safe before proceeding to human clinical trials on preventing radiation-induced lung injury.

“Radiation-induced lung injury is a critical delayed effect of acute radiation exposure, and the early-stage results with genistein to prevent this effect are promising enough that we would like to see additional studies,” said BARDA Director Dr. Robin Robinson. “To protect health and save lives, health care providers will need a variety of effective ways to identify and treat the wide range of illnesses and injuries that can be caused by chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents. This product shows promise to become part of the radiation medicine bag.”

Today’s contract follows initial research and development of the drug supported by the National Institutes of Health. BARDA and the Department of Defense work together to identify potential medical countermeasures – drugs, vaccines, diagnostic tools, equipment and supplies used to treat or prevent injury, illness or death from natural or man-made threats. These agencies coordinate to create a continuum of support from initial research and development of potential medical countermeasures to advanced research and development to purchase for emergency stockpiles.

The work on genistein joins a growing advanced development program of medical countermeasures to treat the skin, lung and blood injuries caused by high levels of damaging radiation. Many of these products may or already have uses outside of emergency response as well, such as treating complications that arise during radiation therapy for cancer.

BARDA is seeking additional proposals for products that potentially could treat or prevent illness and injury from acute radiation syndrome, as well as improved diagnostic tools to measure the radiation dose a person has absorbed after a nuclear denotation or radiation accident. Proposals are accepted through the Broad Agency Announcement BARDA-CBRN-BAA-11-100-SOL-00009 at

BARDA, an agency within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive integrated portfolio approach to the advanced research and development, innovation, acquisition, and manufacturing infrastructure for vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products for public health emergency threats. These threats include chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases.

For more information about BARDA and the advanced research and development of medical countermeasures, visit Contract opportunities and awards are announced at

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  • This page last reviewed: June 01, 2011