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Article  September 22, 2018

Development of a point-of-care radiation biodosimeter: studies using novel protein biomarker panels in non-human primates



Robert P. Balog, Rowena Bacher, Polly Chang, Michael Greenstein, Songeeta Jammalamadaka, Harold Javitz, Susan J. Knox, Shirley Lee, Hua Lin, Thomas Shaler, Lei Shura, Paul Stein, Kathryn Todd, David E. Cooper. (2020) Development of a point-of-care radiation biodosimeter: studies using novel protein biomarker panels in non-human primates. International Journal of Radiation Biology 96:1, pages 22-34.


Purpose: There is a need to rapidly triage individuals for absorbed radiation dose following a significant nuclear event. Since most exposed individuals will not have physical dosimeters, we are developing a method to assess exposure dose based on the analysis of a specific panel of blood proteins that can be easily obtained from a fingerstick blood sample.

Materials and methods: In three large non-human primate (NHP) studies, animals were exposed to single acute total body doses of x-ray or gamma radiation. A total of 895 blood samples were obtained at baseline and for 7 days after exposure, to evaluate the temporal progression of markers in each of 10 animals (5M/5F) in six dose groups receiving 0–10 Gy. We used tandem mass spectrometry and immunoassay techniques to identify radiation-responsive proteins in blood plasma samples.

Results: A blood protein biomarker panel was developed based on analysis of blood plasma samples obtained from several irradiation studies in NHPs that aimed to simulate acute radiation injury in humans from a nuclear exposure event. Panels of several subsets of proteins were shown to accurately classify plasma samples into two exposure groups either above or below a critical dose threshold with sensitivities and specificities exceeding 90%.

Conclusion: This study lays the groundwork for developing a radiation biodosimetry triage tool. Our results in NHPs must be compared with those in human patients undergoing radiotherapy to determine if the biomarker panel proteins exhibit a similar radiation response and allow adequate classification power in humans.

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