StemRad

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StemRad LTD / StemRad Inc
Limited Company (Israel) Corporation (USA)
Industry Emergency Preparedness, Personal Protective Equipment
Founded 2011
Founders Dr. Oren Milstein and Daniel Levitt
Website www.stemrad.com

StemRad is an Israeli-American company headquartered in Tel-Aviv, Israel, that develops, manufactures and sells personal protective equipment (PPE) for ionizing radiation. Its flagship product is the 360 Gamma, a radiation protection device which protects the user's pelvic bone marrow. It is the world's only company producing PPE intended to protect users from high dose gamma radiation and the first to employ partial shielding in its products. In July 2015 it was announced that StemRad would be partnering with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin to develop personal radiation protection for astronauts.[1]

History

StemRad was founded in December 2011 by Dr. Oren Milstein and Daniel Levitt. They were inspired to create the company by the Chernobyl disaster where many of the firemen and engineers who were first on the scene died from high doses of gamma radiation in an illness known as Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS), also known as radiation sickness. This inspiration was fueled by a sense of urgency due to the growing nuclear threat on the state of Israel. Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, the two joined forces with Nobel Laureates Roger Kornberg, Aaron Ciechanover and soon-to-be laureate Michael Levitt with a common vision of 'saving those who save us'.[2] The group was further bolstered by the joining of Prof. Richard Champlin of M.D. Anderson, who had treated the radiologically injured first responders of Chernobyl in the days following the accident.[3] In late 2011 the team secured funding from the venture capital fund Wanaka Capital and private investors and founded the company in Tel-Aviv. The US subsidiary in Palo Alto, CA was established soon thereafter.

Overview

According to co-founder Dr. Oren Milstein, “This is the first product of its kind that protects against gamma radiation, which has until now killed people who have been exposed to it.”[4]

In presenting its product, the 360 Gamma, StemRad has gone against conventional wisdom that in order to protect one must shield as much of the body as possible. The problem with trying to protect the whole body is the resulting weight, as outlined by Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt: "To make a full body suit with this level of protection would weigh something like 200 Kg".[5] Thus, pre-existing shielding solutions had always been made using only thin layers of inherently heavy radiation-attenuating material to allow for mobility. This type of shielding is effective only for blocking of alpha and beta radiation, yet is ineffective in blocking highly penetrating gamma radiation.[6] Existing shielding is therefore incapable of preventing the acute health effects of exposure to gamma radiation (i.e. Acute Radiation Syndrome - ARS). StemRad's product line differs markedly in that it does not attempt to protect the whole body of the wearer but rather selectively protects the bone marrow-rich pelvic region.[7]

Technology

For the body to recover from the acute health effects of radiation, it is important to allow crucial biological regenerative processes to take place post-exposure. The human tissue endowed with the most regenerative potential is bone marrow. This tissue is critical for human survival, yet is exceptionally radiation sensitive.

It is well documented that upon human exposure to gamma radiation doses of up to 10 Gy (median lethal dose= 4 Gy), the life-limiting factor is damage sustained by the bone marrow tissue.[8] The radiation exposure levels in a nuclear catastrophe, such as in an atomic bomb detonation or following a nuclear power plant reactor meltdown, are largely within this range.[9] Thus, the thinking behind StemRad's approach is that a great number of the fatalities resulting from exposure to gamma radiation in a nuclear catastrophe could be avoided by preserving bone marrow viability.[10]

StemRad’s flagship shield, the 360 Gamma, is of a belt-like design, focused on the protection of bone marrow that is present in the hip bones (i.e. pelvis). The pelvis contains up to 50% of an adult's active bone marrow and is the site from which bone marrow is commonly extracted for transplantation.[11] While weighing in at about 14 kg, the belt allows for relatively unhindered movement of the wearer since it sits on the body's center of gravity.

File:StemRad 360 Gamma Product.jpg
The 360 Gamma is shown from the rear (left) and front (right). It is of a belt-like design, wrapping around the user's waist.

While StemRad is forthcoming about the fact that its product does not protect all of the body's bone marrow and that some radiation may enter the shielded region, it is claimed that the product can save the life of an individual even at very high doses of gamma radiation based on the unique regenerative potential of marrow tissue. The regenerative capacity of bone marrow is best demonstrated in transplantation where the donor donates only a small fraction (smaller than 5%) of his marrow and this is enough to replenish the bone marrow of a supralethally irradiated patient even at doses above 10 Gy.[12][13]

StemRad claims that it has determined the minimal amount of bone marrow required to allow for recovery post-irradiation, and through exhaustive anatomical study, has devised a product that is able to protect a volume of bone marrow that is in excess of this critical amount.

Being selective, StemRad’s shielding blocks high energy gamma radiation while remaining of a relatively manageable weight. For further weight reduction, StemRad’s product brings into account the natural shielding properties of human tissue, by being of a thickness inversely related to the thickness and radiodensity of the underlying tissue at each point surrounding the area being protected.

StemRad claims that its patent-pending shield, the 360 Gamma, has been tested against a cloud source of gamma radiation, representing a real-life situation.

Market

The 360 Gamma belt is intended for fire fighters, paramedics, police and members of the military, all of whom, as first responders to disasters such as earthquakes or 9/11 type attacks, would be exposed to radiation in the event of a nuclear catastrophe.[14]

Awards and Recognition

  • 2013 Israel-Japan Chamber of Commerce Innovation Award [15]
  • Smart Clothes Lecture Series, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University[16]

References

  1. "Lockheed Martin and StemRad Studying First-Responder Radiation Shield for Potential Deep-Space Application". http://www.lockheedmartin.com. Retrieved 11 August 2015. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Dismantling the Bomb: meet the scientists that will cause humanity to stop worrying about nuclear threats". The Marker.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "U.S. DOCTORS IN SOVIET SAY 4 MORE DIED". New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Israeli Company Invents Nuclear Proof Vest That Protects Against Toxic Radiation". The Algemeiner.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Radiation belt a new line of defence in nuclear emergency". Reuters UK.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "National Planning Scenarios". Department of Homeland Security (DHS).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Radiation belt a new line of defence in nuclear emergency". Reuters. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Acute Radiation Syndrome: Fact Sheet for Physicians". CDC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "National Planning Scenarios". Department of Homeland Security (DHS).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "'Anti-radiation belt' developed by Israeli firm for nuclear emergencies". RT.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Donating bone marrow". Marrow.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  13. Thomas E.D.; et al. (1982). "Marrow transplantation for acute nonlymphoblastic leukemic in first remission using fractionated or single-dose irradiation". Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 8 (5): 817–21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Stemrad Makes Belt to Protect Users From Radiation Exposure". Jewish Business News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Exporter's lost island". Globes.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Science and Application of Wearable Technology". Harvard.edu.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>