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The Radiation Problem

A solution?

They started with two common food preservatives--the same stuff, BHA and BHT, that keeps Wonder Bread fresh for weeks--as a means to carry away free radicals before they can cause harm.

But for the food preservatives to become effective, the scientists needed a way to get them inside cells.

That's where carbon nanotubes, single layers of carbon atoms curved into tiny cylinders, came in handy. The research team attached the food preservatives to the nanotubes, which, because of their size, provided a perfect vehicle for traversing the body's arteries and entering cells.

Tour said he began his research with the goal of finding a drug to protect astronauts on long-duration space missions from the radiation to which they are exposed outside Earth's atmosphere.

But the test results in mice, which were given the drug 30 minutes before a blast of radiation, were so impressive that Tour thought the drug might have much broader potential.

I hope that the real promise is for deep space travel, not for a nuclear war. We need to do everything we can to avoid the latter, but if not, this will help as well.


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Mike Puckett wrote:

This could have profound anti-aging applications as well.

Jonathan Goff wrote:

That is rather interesting news. That's one of the big issues that lots of people like bringing up when poo-pooing manned space exploration/settlement, and it would be great if there were a drug like that.

The other big issue that needs more information is the effects of partial gravity on human physiology. If it turns out for instance that 1/6g is enough to get rid of the worst microgravity health effects, then that could also have profound implications.


Orville wrote:

Can the body adequately excrete the leftover nanotubes? If not, then this may only work as a one or two try remedy.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on January 28, 2008 8:53 AM.

Things Looking Up was the previous entry in this blog.

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