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Small molecules in the blood might gauge radiation effects after exposure
Date:2/25/2013

  • Currently, doctors have no way to accurately measure damage to the body soon after a person is exposed to ionizing radiation.
  • It is therefore difficult to know whether a person is likely to suffer serious effects after an occupational or accidental exposure.
  • This animal study shows that radiation exposure alters the levels of certain small molecules in the blood, perhaps offering a reliable measure of damage to the body.

COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State University cancer researchers have identified molecules in the bloodstream that might accurately gauge the likelihood of radiation illness after exposure to ionizing radiation.

The animal study, led by researchers at The Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC James), shows that X-rays or gamma rays alter the levels of certain molecules called microRNA in the blood in a predictable way.

If verified in human subjects, the findings could lead to new methods for rapidly identifying people at risk for acute radiation syndrome after occupational exposures or accidents such as the recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor incident. The microRNA markers might also help doctors plan radiation therapy for individual patients by taking into account how different people respond to radiation treatment, the researchers say.

The findings are reported in the journal PLOS ONE.

"Our paper reports the identification of a panel of microRNA markers in mice whose serum levels provide an estimate of radiation response and of the dose received after an exposure has occurred," says senior author Dr. Arab Chakravarti, chair and professor of Radiation Oncology, the Max Morehouse Chair in Cancer Research and co-director of the Brain Tumor Program.

"Accurate dose evaluation is critical for making medical decisions and for the timely administration of therapy to prevent or reduce acut
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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