Becoming Your Own Donor in a Mass Casualty Radiation Event
12.31.19 | Tuesday | Nofit Amir
Safeguarding the most vulnerable – and critically necessary – parts of the body to sustain life, the stem-cell rich areas, requires a wearable shield to protect against gamma radiation exposure.
When a person is exposed to high energy gamma radiation, the first organ to suffer damage is the body’s blood production system – the bone marrow. The ability to produce blood, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, is immediately destroyed when a person is exposed to high energy ionizing radiation. As a result, a fatal condition called ARS – Acute Radiation Syndrome (sometimes called radiation sickness) – develops. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ARS is the main cause of death due to exposure to gamma radiation.
In principle, it is widely understood that the body cannot recover from the destruction of the blood formation system because gamma radiation destroys the body’s replacement cells, called stem cells. Stem cells are located throughout the body within a person’s bone marrow. As such, the primary emergency therapy for ARS is a radical bone marrow transplant, which can only be successfully accomplished with a compatible donor; an almost impossible feat to identify in the throes of a mass casualty radiation event.
Yet, if a person could selectively shield merely 2.5% – 5% of their own bone marrow with a wearable radiation shield, their body could replenish its own blood supply and thus significantly increase their chance of post-exposure survival. It was this medical understanding, that a stunningly small (yet critical) amount of bone marrow was all that was necessary to recover from deadly radiation exposure, which led StemRad co-founder and CEO, Dr. Oren Milstein, to realize that a wearable radiation protection that selectively shielded areas in the body rich in stem cells could provide meaningful and effective protection against exposure to penetrating gamma radiation.
By selectively shielding the body’s bone marrow-rich pelvic area, which may contain up to 50% of an adult’s bone marrow supply, as opposed to covering the entire body which would make physical movement impossible, a person can remain mobile and seek proper shelter, evacuate to a safe area or perform an emergency service within a gamma radiation environment – thereby substantially increasing their chances for survival.
Currently, StemRad’s selective shielding technology is deployed and used to protect nuclear plant workers, first responders, soldiers and civilians (through StemRad’s 360 Gamma), combatants in elite army units (through StemRad’s 360 Gamma Lite) and NASA astronauts (through StemRad’s wearable shield against solar particle events, called the AstroRad).
StemRad’s selective shielding technology is endorsed by three Nobel laureates and the 360 Gamma was successfully tested at the U.S. Department of Energy’s PNNL laboratory. Those results were recently reconfirmed by the Department of Defense. The AstroRad is currently on board the International Space Station for ergonomic and human factor testing with NASA astronauts and is manifested to launch on NASA’s Artemis-1 deep space mission in 2021. StemRad will soon release a new and disruptive way to protect physicians and technicians from exposure to radiation in Cath labs worldwide. Stay tuned….
Writes content for StemRad’s website, social media, and newsletter. She is an advocate with over twenty years of experience of writing high-end content in academic and industrial settings.