HOME >> BIOLOGY >> NEWS
The Geiger counter within us

HOW much damage does cosmic radiation do to frequent flyers? Is depleted uranium from shells causing cancers in former war zones such as Kosovo and Iraq? Is enough being done to protect people from natural radon gas? The discovery that certain kinds of radiation leave a distinctive pattern of damage in our cells could help answer these questions.

"If this works, we'll be able to take a measurement and see the lifetime exposure in that person," says David Brenner of Columbia University in New York. "Often there is no other reliable record of individual exposure." It is this uncertainty about radiation exposure that makes it hard to pin down the health risks.

"That they found this effect was there at all is significant," says Michael Cornforth, a radiation biologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. "But I was flabbergasted by how clear-cut it was."

Radiation is harmful because of its ionising effect, which can break DNA chains. If the broken pieces are rejoined incorrectly, the resulting genetic scrambling can harm cells or, far worse, set them on the road to cancer.

Some genetic damage is easy to spot, such as when parts of different chromosomes are exchanged - known as interchromosomal changes. But because mutagenic chemicals can also cause such exchanges, this is not a reliable indicator of exposure to radiation.

Researchers have long suspected that slow-moving, heavy particles such as alpha particles and neutrons should leave a characteristic pattern of damage. These kinds of radiation are known as "densely ionising" because they wreak havoc within a short tunnel; "sparsely ionising" X-rays or gamma rays spread their damage along a much longer path. Because the damage from densely ionising radiation is so concentrated, it is far more likely to hit one chromosome several times, triggering deletions or reordering of its DNA.

Detecting intrachromosomal changes like these has been extremely difficult till now. But B
'"/>

Contact: Claire Bowles
claire.bowles@rbi.co.uk
44-207-331-2751
New Scientist
28-May-2003


Page: 1 2

Related biology news :

1. Transgenic mosquitoes are less fertile than their counterparts in nature
2. Marine pathogens spread much faster than their terrestrial counterparts
3. Startling deep-sea encounter with rare, massive Greenland shark
4. Grazer diversity counteracts plant diversity effects on ecosystem functioning in seagrass beds
5. Over-the-counter pain relievers may prevent breast cancer
6. Over-the-counter pain relievers effective in protecting against breast cancer
7. WWII discovery may counter bioterrorists
8. Code-breaking insects steal plants defensive signals, enabling counterattack
9. First discovery of an immune system counter attack in the virus wars
10. Institute to counter agricultural terrorism formalized
11. Low-tech handheld device detects counterfeit drugs

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:7/1/2020)... N.J. (PRWEB) , ... July 01, 2020 , ... ... announced that it had completed the purchase of Teva-Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ packaging facility in ... the company’s existing Japanese clinical supply facility located in Kakegawa, the new 60,000-square-foot ...
(Date:6/28/2020)... ... June 25, 2020 , ... In an upcoming episode scheduled for the fall ... Care Testing solutions (POCT). Check local listings for more info. , Today, the majority ... are shipped to labs throughout the country. Results are then available several days later. ...
(Date:6/23/2020)... ... June 23, 2020 , ... First Aid Africa, a ... UK supplier and manufacturer of innovative portable renewable energy equipment, have announced the ... against the COVID-19 pandemic in Zambia. , One of Renovagen’s FAST FOLD portable ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/18/2020)... ... July 17, 2020 , ... ... for the life sciences and food industries, is pleased to announce that Charles ... Research – Business Development. , Charles is an accomplished and results-driven sales executive ...
(Date:7/10/2020)... BALTIMORE (PRWEB) , ... July ... ... Baltimore biotechnology company, announced today that Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has ... This broader license allows PathSensors to move into the point-of-care diagnostic market, ...
(Date:7/10/2020)... ... July 09, 2020 , ... Sentien Biotechnologies, Inc., ... hiring of Allen R. Nissenson, M.D., F.A.C.P., as its Chief Medical Officer. ... Sentien’s lead product, SBI-101. Dr. Nissenson serves as an Emeritus Professor of ...
(Date:7/7/2020)... ... July 06, 2020 , ... ... Entries from Roche, Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the University of Chicago, Massachusetts General ... World has hosted an elite awards program, highlighting outstanding examples of how technology ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: