Experimental agents may prevent radiation-induced leukaemia

20 Apr 2009

Treatment with biphosphonates could prevent radiation-induced leukaemia, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting 2009, Denver.

Alexandra Miller, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, said her research is designed to help military and space agency personnel, who are more likely to be exposed to risky levels of radiation than the general population. However, she said the research could have applications for civilian populations as well.

"It is possible, although not yet proven, that the compound we studied could have a general effect on leukaemia associated with causes other than radiation, such as age, which is much more common," said Miller.

The compounds Miller studied are biphosphonates known to scientists as ethane-1-hydroxy-1, 1-biphosphonate (EHBP) and carballylic amido bis phosphonic acid (CAPBP). Biphosphonates have emerged as an attractive chemopreventive agent due to earlier research that suggests they prevent bone metastasis and because they have an ability to remove uranium from the body.

For the current study, Miller and her colleagues irradiated laboratory mice at 3.5 Gy; all of the mice who were not treated with either EHBP or CAPBP developed leukaemia. By contrast, if they were treated with six doses of EHBP only 75 per cent of mice developed leukemia. Similarly, only 65 per cent of mice treated with CAPBP developed leukaemia.