publication date: May. 29, 2015

Two Chernobyl Doctors Were First Humans to Get GM-CSF 

 

By 1986, there were substantial data in animals that molecularly-clone human haematopoietic growth factors, such as granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), could accelerate bone marrow recovery and increase survival after exposure to high-dose ionizing radiations given under controlled experimental conditions.

On April 26, 1986, my Soviet colleagues and I were suddenly faced with treating about 200 firefighters, emergency personnel and technicians exposed to very high doses of ionizing radiations from an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power facility in Ukraine. The most severely affected persons receiving >2 Gray (Gy; for reference the average dose of the A-bomb survivors was 10 times less and there were no survivors of doses >1 Gy)1 were flown to Moscow where we set up operations at Clinical Hospital 6, a high security facility attached to the Institute of Biophysics.2

We used diverse physical, biological and modeling techniques to arbitrarily divide victims into low-, moderate-, high- and very-high dose radiation exposure cohorts. Persons in the low-dose cohort received supportive care, many in the high-dose cohort received bone marrow transplants and those in the very high-dose cohort (unlikely to survive because of irreversible damage to other tissues and organs such as the lungs) again received supportive care. The question we faced was whether to try GM-CSF in persons in the moderate-dose cohort and those in the high-dose cohort lacking an appropriate bone marrow donor.

GM-CSF had never been given to humans and the Soviet … Continue reading 41-21 Two Chernobyl Doctors Were First Humans to Get GM-CSF

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