After 9/11, threat of nuclear attack on American urban centers prompted government agencies to develop medical radiation countermeasures to mitigate hematopoietic acute radiation syndrome (H-ARS) and higher-dose gastrointestinal acute radiation syndrome (GI-ARS) lethality. While repurposing leukemia drugs that enhance bone marrow repopulation successfully treats H-ARS in preclinical models, no mitigator potentially deliverable under mass casualty conditions preserves GI tract. Here, we report generation of an anti-ceramide 6B5 single-chain variable fragment (scFv) and show that s.c. 6B5 scFv delivery at 24 hours after a 90% lethal GI-ARS dose of 15 Gy mitigated mouse lethality, despite administration after DNA repair was complete. We defined an alternate target to DNA repair, an evolving pattern of ceramide-mediated endothelial apoptosis after radiation, which when disrupted by 6B5 scFv, initiates a durable program of tissue repair, permitting crypt, organ, and mouse survival. We posit that successful preclinical development will render anti-ceramide 6B5 scFv a candidate for inclusion in the Strategic National Stockpile for distribution after a radiation catastrophe.
Jimmy A. Rotolo, Chii Shyang Fong, Sahra Bodo, Prashanth K.B. Nagesh, John Fuller, Thivashnee Sharma, Alessandra Piersigilli, Zhigang Zhang, Zvi Fuks, Vijay K. Singh, Richard Kolesnick