Jeffrey Atkinson’s quest to make vitamin E better for the human body has shown the potential to lead to new counter-terrorism measures while enhancing current medicinal uses of radiation.
Ionizing radiation, which kills cells, is currently used in medical applications such as bone marrow transplants. But it can be detrimental or even deadly in uncontrolled situations such as a terrorist attack, or even prolonged exposure for flight crews on extended space missions.
Atkinson’s research group has created compounds that mimic the positive effects of vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, but are better absorbed by the body. The Nature article highlights the results of recent experimental models showing the synthetic compounds prevented irradiation-induced deaths.
The synthetic compounds also have the potential to produce other anti-cancer and cholesterol-lowering properties.
Atkinson, who will move his lab to the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Complex, recently received a $33,000 U.S. grant by the Center for Medical Countermeasures against Radiation to further his work developing the chemical compounds. Brock and Atkinson also recently filed a patent for one of those compounds, which could eventually help develop drugs that enable other forms of tocopherol to be useful in treating disease.