• Drug made in Washington lab could treat people exposed to radioactive material

    By: Joanna Small


    There's a drug that just may save your life in the event of a nuclear attack-- and it's being made in Lynnwood.

    As fears of a North Korean missile strike continue to rise, the makers say a drug used to treat cancer can also treat people with Acute Radiation Syndrome.

    Walking through a maze of metal canisters inside Partner Therapeutics, you'd probably think you're touring a brewery, and there is yeast in there.

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    "It has a slightly higher value than beer might have,” John Daigneult, associate director of facility operations, told us.

    He says in fact it could save your life in the event a nuclear attack.

    We went inside the Lynnwood lab where Leukine has been made to treat acute myeloid leukemia for decades by extracting a protein from yeast.

    But Robert Mulroy's company, Partner Therapeutics, acquired the drug and the lab Thursday, and Mulroy's vision for Leukine is far broader.

    "Early evidence in the research that's been done in laboratory tests suggests that it could increase survival, help patients overcome the effects of radiation and thus save lives,” he explained.

    Leukine is already being prescribed for other diseases; Daigneult says his mother-in-law-used it to treat Alzheimer’s.

    "They had heard of a study, so they pursued that off-label use,” he said.

    It's also already been used to treat radiation exposure. By March, though, Mulroy says it will likely be FDA-approved for that.

    “You could have an incident like Fukushima in Japan where a nuclear power plant has an issue that could result in the escape of radiation, or -- what we all hope could never happen — a dirty bomb or nuclear incident with a massive field of radiation, and Leukine could save many lives,” Mulroy told us.

    So how do you get your hands on this drug? It's an injection and it will have to be prescribed by a doctor.

    If you want it to have on hand just in case -- you'll have to ask your doctor.

    Otherwise, it’s likely that in the event of a bomb it will be widely distributed.

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