Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is conducting what it suggests is a first-in-human clinical trial of an experimental oral drug designed to remove radioactive contaminants from within the body.

The developers of the investigational drug product HOPO 14-1 will reportedly examine the safety and tolerability of the drug as well as assess how the drug is processed in the body in escalating doses.

International ionizing radiation warning symbol.International ionizing radiation warning symbol.

According to the developers of the drug, internal radioactive contamination can occur in the event that radioactive elements are absorbed through wounded skin or inhaled or ingested amid a nuclear power plant accident or in the presence of a detonated dirty bomb or nuclear weapon. Reportedly, the atoms of radioactive elements decompose, thereby emitting ionizing radiation and subsequently damaging DNA, tissues and organs. To minimize the risk of this damage, one approach involves removing the radioactive elements from the body immediately following contamination.

In oral capsule form, HOPO14-1 has effectively removed many radioactive contaminants, — including uranium, neptunium, plutonium, americium and curium — during preclinical trials. Additionally, the team also found that HOPO 14-1 is roughly 100 times more effective at binding and removing radioactive elements than diethylenetriamine pentaacetate (DTPA), a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for intravenously removing internal radioactive contamination.

A clinical trial of HOPO14-1 is currently underway with results expected in 2024.

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