University of Chicago Licenses CT Gene-Protection Drug

July 1, 2011

The University of Chicago has acquired technology and intellectual property rights for the development of amifostine, a drug researchers hope can prevent genetic changes caused by a variety of sources of ionizing radiation exposure, including common Computer Tomography (CT) scans.

Pinnacle Oncology LLC, a subsidiary of Pinnacle Biologics Inc., has announced an agreement with the University of Chicago acquire technology and intellectual property rights for the development of amifostine, a drug researchers hope can prevent genetic changes caused by a variety of sources of ionizing radiation exposure, including common Computer Tomography (CT) scans.

Amifostine was initially developed by the United States Army to protect military personnel from the toxic effects of radiation exposure in the event of a nuclear war.  Pinnacle Oncology cites animal studies showing amifostine to be effective in protecting against genomic instability and associated long term genomic damages resulting from radiation exposure, such as from CT scans and other diagnostic radiology and radiation oncology procedures that lead to DNA damages, chromosomal aberrations and gene mutations, all of which are associated with cancer.
 
Pinnacle Biologics vice-chairman Viren Grover cited a National Cancer Institute study suggesting that the 70 million CT scans performed in the United States in 2007 may have contributed to 29,000 new cancers and 14,500 deaths.

Amifostine is FDA-approved to lessen side effects such as dry mouth in patients receiving chemotherapy, among other applications.

“In addition to protecting against genomic instability, somatic mutagenesis and carcinogenesis, amifostine may also facilitate protection against germ line mutations. These exposures can come from a variety of sources, including common diagnostic procedures such as CT scans and more generalized environmental exposures, as recently evidenced by the nuclear plant accident in Japan,” said David Grdina, professor of Radiation and Cellular Oncology at the University of Chicago and inventor of the technology behind the development of amifostine as a genomic stabilizing agent.