Novelos enters radiation countermeasures fray

Published 22 February 2006

Few areas of homeland security are more controversial than nuclear radiation countermeasures, and the policy and procurement decisions the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made in this regard. This controversy does not deter new players from entering the fray. Newton, Massachusetts-based Novelos Therapeutics (OTCBB: NVLT), a biotechnology company more commonly associated with the development of therapeutics to treat cancer and hepatitis, said it has responded to a recent Request for Proposal (RFP) from HHS by submitting a proposal for the use of NOV-002 to treat subjects exposed to lethal radiation. In preclinical experiments conducted in the Russian Federation, groups of mice and rats were exposed to lethal levels of radiation. Treatment of animals with NOV-002 (after irradiation) resulted in a two- to three-fold increase in thirty day survival compared to the irradiated but untreated control animals. NOV-002 treated animals did not experience severe neutropenia (loss of white blood cells used for fighting off infections) and demonstrated significantly higher bone marrow cell counts than the control (bone marrow is the source of white blood cells). NOV-002 is already approved in the Russian Federation for use in adults as a preventive and therapeutic agent in secondary immune deficiency associated with radiation, and is marketed as Glutoxim.

In December 2004, Novelos responded to HHS Request for Information (RFI) for therapeutics to treat neutropenia and thrombocytopenia (loss of platelets responsible for blood clotting) associated with Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS). In December 2005, HHS issued an RFP (RFP #DHHS-ORDC-DDA-05-12) for Medical Countermeasures to Mitigate or Treat Neutropenia Alone or in Combination with Co-Morbidities Associated with ARS. The submission deadline for the proposal is tomorrow. HHS’s current procurement plans are for up to 100,000 treatment courses of medical countermeasures, with an additional 100,000 courses anticipated to be procured at a later date. Multiple awards may be made with a 20,000 course minimum procurement.

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