Exposure to acute, high-dose, high dose-rate whole-body ionizing radiations damages the bone marrow resulting in rapid decreases in concentrations of blood cells, especially lymphocytes, granulocytes and platelets with associated risks of infection and bleeding. In several experimental models including non-human primate radiation exposure models giving molecularly cloned haematopoietic growth factor including granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (G/M-CSF; sargramostim) and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF; filgrastim and pegylated G-CSF [peg-filgrastim]) accelerates bone marrow recovery and increases survival. Based on these data these molecules are US FDA approved for treating victims of radiation and nuclear incidents, accident and events such as nuclear terrorism and are included in the US National Strategic Stockpile. We discuss the immediate medical response to these events including how to estimate radiation dose and uniformity and which interventions are appropriate in different radiation exposures settings. We also discuss similarities and differences between molecularly cloned haematopoietic growth factors.
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