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Berkeley Lab scientists developing quick way to id people exposed to ionizing radiation
Date:12/17/2012

ergency involving radiation exposure, it's likely that only a small fraction of all possibly exposed people will be exposed to high doses that require immediate medical attention," says Andy Wyrobek of Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division. "The goal is to quickly screen for these people so they can get treatment, and avoid overwhelming medical facilities with the larger number of people exposed to low levels of radiation with no immediate medical needs. Our research could lead to a blood test that enables this."

Wyrobek conducted the research with fellow Berkeley Lab scientists Helen Budworth and Antoine Snijders, as well as several other scientists from Berkeley Lab and other institutions.

Because DNA is one of the major targets of radiation, the Berkeley Lab scientists began their research by focusing on 40 genes that regulate the expression of proteins that carry out DNA-repair tasks. They studied these genes in blood samples taken from healthy people before and after exposing the samples to 2 Gray of X-rays per year, which is about the radiation dose received by radiotherapy patients. They found twelve genes that underwent more than a twofold change in response after exposure. From these, they isolated eight genes that had no overlap between unirradiated and irradiated samples.

The scientists also treated the blood samples with a compound that mimics inflammatory stress. This enabled them to account for gene-expression responses that could be mistaken for signs of radiation exposure, but which are actually caused by injury or infection. In addition, they irradiated a portion of these samples to learn how the genes respond to both inflammation and radiation.

To validate their findings, the scientists analyzed a separate dataset of blood samples that had also been irradiated. They found a close match between their own data and the independent dataset in how the eight genes respond after radiation exposure.

They also co
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Contact: Dan Krotz
dakrotz@lbl.gov
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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