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The term “radiation combined injury” (RCI) is used to describe conditions where radiation injury is coupled with other insults such as burns, wounds, infection, or blunt trauma. A retrospective account of injuries sustained following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima estimates that RCI comprised approximately 65% of all injuries observed. Much of the research that has been performed on RCI was carried out during the Cold War and our understanding of the clinical problem RCI presents does not reflect the latest advances in medicine or science. Because concerns have increased that terrorists might employ radiological or nuclear weapons, and because of the likelihood that victims of such terrorism would experience RCI, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health sponsored a meeting in 2007 to explore the state of the research in this area, identify programmatic gaps, and establish priorities for future research. As a follow-up to that meeting, in 2008 NIAID sponsored an initiative on RCI, leading to the award of several exploratory/developmental grants, the goals of which are to better understand biological synergy involved in RCI-induced damage, develop improved animal models for various type of RCI, and advance identification and testing of potential countermeasures to treat injuries that would be expected following a radiological or nuclear event. This program has already yielded new insight into the nature of combined injuries and has identified a number of novel and existing compounds that may be effective treatments for this condition.

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