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Aeolus' anti-radiation drug gets tested as a chemical weapons countermeasure

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | October 11, 2011
Aeolus Pharmaceutcials Inc. said Monday that researchers netted a $12.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study whether an experimental drug that could protect the lungs of victims from radiation poisoning or ease side effects during radiotherapy can also work against mustard and chlorine gas.

The Mission Viejo, Calif.-based biotech startup said a pair of scientists, Drs. Carl White and Brian Day, at National Jewish Health will use the funding to set up primary efficacy studies for the drug, AEOL 10150. The funds for the five-year contract come from the Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats Research Network, or CounterACT, program.

Currently, Aeolus has an up to $118 million development contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority, or BARDA, to see if the drug can shield lung cells from destruction caused by exposure to large blasts of radiation.

The drug appears to work by mimicking a natural antioxidant found in the body to reduce inflammation and tissue damage.

Preliminary studies at National Jewish Health and McGill University have shown that administering the substance to mice and rats starting about an hour after getting doused with mustard or chlorine gas seemed to reduce the damage to the animals' airways.

"We are pleased to see NIH CounterACT's continued support of the development of AEOL 10150 as a broad spectrum medical countermeasure, as well as continued support for the cutting-edge work that Dr. White and Dr. Day have been doing in the chemical countermeasure field at National Jewish Health," John L. McManus, Aeolus' president and CEO, said in a statement.

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