Friday, July 10, 2009
Is your city prepared for a home-made nuke?
"A panel of medical experts has just released its assessment of the technologies and therapies that could be rolled out if a home-made nuclear bomb was ever detonated in the heart of an American city. [...] The panel explored the consequences of a nuclear explosion packing a punch equivalent to 10,000 tonnes of TNT. [...] One crucial factor will be for the authorities to get an instant picture of where the fallout is going and its quantity and speed. This will make it possible to figure out who should seek shelter and who should evacuate - and in which direction. It will also ensure that rescuers are not sent on 'suicide missions' into areas of high radiation. [...] Two drugs approved last year could help cut down such [radiation] complications, says panel member Nelson Chao of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Amgen's Nplate (romiplostim), and GlaxoSmithKline's Promacta (eltrombopag) were approved for use in people with a rare condition that keeps their platelets in chronically short supply. Chao says they might also help boost platelet numbers in radiation victims, preventing dangerous blood loss and infections. It may also soon be possible to use what are known as progenitor cells to prop up the patient's immune system while the bone marrow recovers. [...] 'The cells can be grown in the lab and frozen until needed. If they are found to be safe and effective, they could be stockpiled for use in case of a nuclear attack,' says Ram Mandalam, CEO of Cellerant." (New Scientist; 08Jul09; David Shiga)