Wine Compound May Protect Against Radiation Exposure

Sept. 24 -- TUESDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The antioxidant resveratrol, found in many plants and in red wine, may help protect against radiation exposure, say University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers.

They gave acetyl-altered resveratrol to mice before exposure to radiation and found that the rodents' cells were protected from radiation-related damage. The team is conducting further studies to determine whether acetylated-resveratrol can help protect humans against radiation.

The findings were expected to be presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology annual meeting, in Boston.

The research, led by Dr. Joel Greenberger, chairman of the department of radiation oncology, is overseen by the university's Center for Medical Countermeasures Against Radiation. The center's mandate is to identify and develop small molecules that can protect people against radiation in the event of a large-scale radiology or nuclear emergency.

"New, small molecules with radioprotective capacity will be required for treatment in case of radiation spills or even as countermeasures against radiological terrorism. Small molecules which can be easily stored, transported and administered are optimal for this, and so far acetylated resveratrol fits these requirements well," Greenberger said in a prepared statement.

"Currently, there are no drugs on the market that protect against or counteract radiation exposure. Our goal is to develop treatments for the general population that are effective and non-toxic," he added.

In 2004, Greenberger's team identified a drug called JP4-039, which can be delivered directly to the mitochondria (the energy-producing areas of a cell) to help the mitochondria combat radiation-induced cell death.

More information

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has more about the biological effects of radiation.

SOURCE: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, news release, Sept. 23, 2008