US firm Cleveland BioLabs has offered its radiation protection drug candidate CBLB502 as a potential medical radiation countermeasure (MRC) to the Department of Defense (DoD).

The submission is in response to the DoD’s request for proposal for the advanced development of an MRC that will also stand up to the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval and delivery process.

A key criteria for the drug, to be administered following exposure to ionising radiation, is that it should decrease incapacity and prolong survival by treating the gastrointestinal sub-syndrome.

More than $32m has been invested in the development of the drug over the past two years from several federal agencies, including the DoD, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

CBLB502 is a derivative of a microbial protein and is designed to treat acute radiation syndrome or radiation poisoning.

The drug mobilises several cell protective mechanisms including inhibition of programmed cell death, reduction of oxidative damage and induction of regeneration-promoting cytokines.