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8 May 2024 Product Development within the National Institutes of Health Radiation and Nuclear Countermeasures Program
David R. Cassatt, Andrea L. DiCarlo, Olivia Molinar-Inglis
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The Radiation and Nuclear Countermeasures Program (RNCP) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH) was established to facilitate the development of medical countermeasures (MCMs) and diagnostic approaches for use in a radiation public health emergency. Approvals for MCMs can be very challenging but are made possible under the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Animal Rule, which is designed to enable licensure of drugs or biologics when clinical efficacy studies are unethical or unfeasible. The NIAID portfolio includes grants, contracts, and inter-agency agreements designed to span all aspects of drug development and encompasses basic research through FDA approval. In addition, NIAID manages an active portfolio of biodosimetry approaches to assess injuries and absorbed radiation levels to guide triage and treatment decisions. NIAID, together with grantees, contractors, and other stakeholders with promising products, works to advance candidate MCMs and biodosimetry tools through an established product development pipeline. In addition to managing grants and contracts, NIAID tests promising candidates in our established preclinical animal models, and the NIAID Program Officers work closely with sponsors as product managers to guide them through the process. In addition, a valuable benefit for stakeholders is working with the NIAID Office of Regulatory Affairs, where NIAID coordinates with the FDA to facilitate interactions between sponsors and the agency. Activities funded by NIAID include basic research (e.g., library screens to discover new products, determine early efficacy, and delineate mechanism of action) and the development of small and large animal models of radiation-induced hematopoietic, gastrointestinal, lung, kidney, and skin injury, radiation combined injury, and radionuclide decorporation. NIAID also sponsors Good Laboratory Practice product safety, pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and toxicology studies, as well as efficacy and dose-ranging studies to optimize product regimens. For later-stage candidates, NIAID funds large-scale manufacturing and formulation development of products. The program also supports Phase 1 human clinical studies to ensure human safety and to bridge pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and efficacy data from animals to humans. To date, NIAID has supported >900 animal studies and one clinical study, evaluating >500 new/repurposed radiation MCMs and biodosimetric approaches. NIAID sponsorship led to the approval of three of the six drugs for acute radiation syndrome under the FDA Animal Rule, five Investigational New Drug applications, and 18 additional submissions for Investigational Device Exemptions, while advancing 38 projects to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for follow-on research and development.

David R. Cassatt, Andrea L. DiCarlo, and Olivia Molinar-Inglis "Product Development within the National Institutes of Health Radiation and Nuclear Countermeasures Program," Radiation Research 201(5), 471-478, (8 May 2024).
Received: 27 July 2023; Accepted: 21 September 2023; Published: 8 May 2024
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