Research project Factors influencing cellular and individual sensitivity to radiation and biomarkers of exposure
Cells and organisms are differentially sensitive to ionising radiation. What influences the individual response to radiation? We study the role of genetic and environmental factors and try to identify biomarkers of radiation sensitivity and exposure.
Many factors influence the response of cells to radiation, such as the dose, dose rate, cell cycle stage, chromatin conformation and intracellular energy status. What are the mechanism by which they influence cellular response to radiation? How far can they modulate the response? The results are interesting from the perspective of basic science but also relevant to radiation research because they can influence the outcome of radiobiological experiments. An interesting question is also what factors influence the individual response of humans to radiation. Cancer patients show viariable risks of developing radiotherapy toxicities and radiotherapy-induced cancer. Can we find biomarkers that allow identifying patients at a particularly high risk? We carry out experiments both on cell lines and on cells isolated from radiotherapy patients and healthy people.
The risk of radiological events has recently increased, not only due to possible accidents in nuclear facilities but particularly as a result of the threat of terrorist attacks against key nuclear facilities or the use of nuclar weapons. Biological dosimetry is an essential tool in the management of a radiological mass casualty, which can provide timely assessment of radiation exposure to the general population and enables the identification of those exposed people who should receive medical treatment. In collaboration with the European network in biological dosimetry (RENEB) we are testing new and validating existing biomarkers of exposure that can serve as biological dosimeters.