New evidence of radiation risk in childhood leukaemia

in unexposed offspring of irradiated male mice do not return to the mutation rates seen in unexposed individuals but are maintained at levels similar to those of directly exposed males. He then went on to show that the elevated mutation rates persisted into the second generation of offspring, through both the male and female germ-lines.

Dubrova and his colleagues developed a novel, effective method for monitoring radiation-induced mutation in humans and studied germ-line mutation among families from rural areas of Ukraine and Belarus, both of which were heavily contaminated by fallout from the Chernobyl accident. They found a statistically significant 1.6-fold increase in mutation rate in the germ-line of exposed fathers. The maternal germ-line mutation rate was not elevated. Commenting on the results of this study, Dubrova said "Experimental evidence for radiation-induced mutation in the human germ-line remains highly controversial. But our studies in Ukraine and Belarus have shown that genomic instability can be induced in the paternal germ-line in humans. It remains to be seen whether this instability can be transmitted to further generations, as has shown to be the case in our mouse studies."

Dubrova will be discussing the potential implications of his results for the estimates of genetic risk for humans. During the week long conference, there will be many presentations of new data as well as fresh reviews of older data. Both pre-conceptual and in utero exposure will come under scrutiny today, with factors such as cigarette smoke, electromagnetic fields and use of medication being presented for discussion.

It is hoped that out of the conference which has attracted top international experts from Europe, America, Asia and Australia - will be born an agenda for future research. CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA will be launching a 1m fund to support research in priority areas.


Contact: Josie Golden
Children With Leukaemia

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