Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For Journalists
Senior Director
Telephone: 412-586-9777

Want to Make an Appointment or Need Patient Information?

Contact UPMC at
1-800-533-UPMC (8762).

Go to Find a Doctor to search for a UPMC doctor.​

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

UPCI, Pitt Researchers Gain Better Understanding of Radiation-Mitigator Drug

PITTSBURGH, April 2, 2012 – Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have a better way of understanding how a drug used to protect against and mitigate irradiation damage interacts inside human cells. Results of the study will be presented today at the AACR Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The study, led by Joel Greenberger, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Pitt, involves the successful labeling and tracking of JP4-039, a drug that combats irradiation-induced cell death by assisting the mitochondria – the energy generator of all cells. The drug was developed by Dr. Greenberger’s research team in conjunction with a team of chemists led by Peter Wipf, Ph.D., distinguished professor of chemistry at Pitt. Previous research has shown that the drug could offer protection from radiation-induced esophagitis, inflammation of the esophagus that causes intense pain during eating and swallowing, as well as have a possible role in post-radiation exposure crises.

“With this study, we found a way to label JP4-039 so we can watch where it travels in the mitochondria,” Dr. Greenberger said. “This allows us to understand what it is binding to and how it acts. We can measure how much of the drug is delivered and where without interfering with its effectiveness. This is important because it is easier to study what the drug does to human cells and, conversely, what human cells do to the drug.”

Because the labeled drug, referred to as BODIPY JP4-039, can be rapidly detected once administered, Dr. Greenberger anticipates it will help further understanding of the radioprotection JP4-039 can offer.

This study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |