University of Nebraska, DOD developing drug therapies to combat radiation exposure

The University of Nebraska and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) have joined forces to develop drug therapies for members of the military who have been exposed to radiation.

Researchers are working at the university's National Strategic Research Institute, one of 13 University Affiliated Research Centers (UARC) to receive support from the DOD and the only UARC focused specifically on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards. 

The team could be awarded $11 million over a five-year period for the project, which aims to reduce the military’s delay in accessing drug therapies that prevent and counteract the impact of radiation exposure. 

"It’s an exciting collaboration among the federal government, our state university and two of its premier research campuses, UNMC and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and consultants from private pharma who are Nebraska alumni," said David Berkowitz, PhD, principal investigator and professor of chemistry and director of interdisciplinary therapeutics research, in a news release from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. 

According to the news release, the team could also receive nearly $11 million in federal funding over the next five years for its research. 

"I’ve never been involved with anything like that before," Berkowitz said in the same release. "This team came together as a joint vision between the team leadership and our DOD funders and it’s pretty unusual across the country to see such a public-private-government partnership."

Berkowitz noted the hope is that this partnership paves the way for more partnerships with “private pharma” for the long term by identifying and developing therapeutic candidates that have dual-purposing potential.