UAMS awarded $8.7M for radiation research - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

UAMS awarded $8.7M for radiation research

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LITTLE ROCK – UAMS has been given $8.7 million in contract options to proceed with advanced development of a promising treatment for use in radiological or nuclear emergency situations.

The options came from Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The first was worth $7.5 million over two years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office. A second one-year option for $1.24 million is for research to be done as part of an interagency agreement between BARDA and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

Including the base BARDA contract for $4.5 million entered into in 2011, the total value awarded is more than $13 million.

Under the contract, UAMS' Martin Hauer-Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally renowned radiation researcher, will lead the evaluation of the drug, pasireotide, formerly known as SOM230, to treat gastrointestinal injuries after radiological or nuclear accidents or terrorist attacks. Hauer-Jensen will be assisted by an 18-person team of UAMS researchers.

The intestine and bone marrow are most susceptible to radiation because of their rapidly proliferating cells. Treatments exist for irradiated bone marrow but not for the intestine.

Radiation damage to the intestine often determines whether a person lives or dies after exposure, Hauer-Jensen said.

"I am very excited about this award, and I am optimistic that in a few years we will have a safe, effective treatment with the potential to saves lives," said Hauer-Jensen, associate dean for research and director of the Division of Radiation Health in the UAMS College of Pharmacy.

The research contract is the largest in the UAMS College of Pharmacy's 60-year history, said Stephanie Gardner, Ed.D., Pharm.D., dean of the College of Pharmacy.

"This award is a great achievement for Dr. Hauer-Jansen and his team," Gardner said. "It is also a great achievement for our college and highlights the fact that we not only have a wonderful academic program, but that we are also excelling in the research arena."