UAMS awarded $8.7M for radiation research

LITTLE ROCK - UAMS has been given $8.7 million in contract options to proceed with advanced development of a promising treatment for use inradiological or nuclear emergency situations.

The options came from Biomedical Advanced Research andDevelopment Authority (BARDA). The first was worth $7.5 million over two years from the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office. Asecond one-year option for $1.24 million is for research to be done as part ofan interagency agreement between BARDA and the U.S. Department of Defense(DOD).

Including the base BARDA contract for $4.5 million enteredinto in 2011, the total value awarded is more than $13 million.

Under the contract, UAMS' Martin Hauer-Jensen, M.D., Ph.D.,an internationally renowned radiation researcher, will lead the evaluation ofthe drug, pasireotide, formerly known as SOM230, to treat gastrointestinalinjuries after radiological or nuclear accidents or terrorist attacks.Hauer-Jensen will be assisted by an 18-person team of UAMS researchers.

The intestine and bone marrow are most susceptible toradiation because of their rapidly proliferating cells. Treatments exist forirradiated bone marrow but not for the intestine.

Radiation damage to the intestine often determines whether aperson lives or dies after exposure, Hauer-Jensen said.

"I am very excited about this award, and I am optimisticthat in a few years we will have a safe, effective treatment with the potentialto saves lives," said Hauer-Jensen, associate dean for research and director ofthe Division of Radiation Health in the UAMS College of Pharmacy.

The research contract is the largest in the UAMS College ofPharmacy's 60-year history, said Stephanie Gardner, Ed.D., Pharm.D., dean ofthe College of Pharmacy.

"This award is a great achievement for Dr. Hauer-Jansen andhis team," Gardner said. "It is also a great achievement for our college andhighlights the fact that we not only have a wonderful academic program, butthat we are also excelling in the research arena."