Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ECCO 13 - Chernobyl legacy sheds light on link between thyroid cancer and radiation exposure

02.11.2005


Study results presented at the 13th European Cancer Conference (ECCO 13) have provided further valuable insights into certain genetic mutations which occur in childhood thyroid tumours and their link to both radiation exposure and patient age.



The unique circumstances of this study were provided for by the legacy of the radioactive accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in April 1986. Exposure to radioactive fallout led to a large increase in the incidence of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), which was particularly pronounced in those who were children at the time of the accident. In normal circumstances, thyroid cancer is rare in children under the age of sixteen.

The Chernobyl Tissue Bank was established in 1998 to collect biological samples from those aged under 19 at the time of the accident who subsequently developed thyroid tumours and were resident in the areas of Ukraine and Russia contaminated by the radioactive iodine (131-I) fallout. Radioactive iodine 131-1 has a short half-life of seven days and quickly dissipates in the environment. The investigators were aware of the fact that the incidence of thyroid cancer had dropped down to normal occurrence rates in those children born 9 months after the Chernobyl accident. The continued collection of material by the Tissue Bank gave the investigators a unique opportunity to compare the samples gathered from children who experienced the Chernobyl accident with those born nine months after the incident whose thyroid cancers were unlikely to arise from exposure to 131-I.


The overall aim of the study was to compare the genetic mutations found in childhood thyroid cancer sufferers born before and after the accident – and assess the link to radiation exposure or patient age at diagnosis. Overall, 52 cases of PTC were studied, using tissue obtained from the Chernobyl Tissue Bank. These cases were split into four groups matched according to age, sex and place of residence. Two groups of 13 cases were from the areas of Ukraine most heavily contaminated with radioiodine – one group of 13 born before the accident and the other born after the 1st January 1997, and therefore spared exposure to radioiodine. The two other groups of 13 cases were from other areas of the Ukraine which were not exposed to significant radioiodine fallout – again consisting of one group of children with PTC born before the accident and one group born after 1st January 1987.

Molecular biology studies found no difference with respect to type or overall frequency of a particular genetic mutation, known as ret rearrangement, between any of the groups – despite the fact that ret rearrangement had been thought to be a potential marker of radiation exposure. This study therefore shows that, contrary to other reports in the literature, there is no association between ret rearrangement and radiation exposure. Rather, the study investigators believe that the real link between the patterns of molecular biological alterations observed post-Chernobyl in thyroid cancer might actually be related to the age of the patients under study, rather than radioiodine exposure. Only one child out of the 52 studied had a specific gene mutation, known as BRAF, which is typically present at higher levels in adult thyroid cancer sufferers. In contrast, 58% of adult thyroid cancer patients in the Ukraine show this mutation.

Overall, the insights provided by the study of Chernobyl children with thyroid cancer suggest that age at diagnosis of cancer should be taken into account before drawing conclusions about any link between the specific molecular biology of the cancer and radiation exposure – as this may actually have more significance.

Principle study investigator, Dr Gerry Thomas from the South West Wales Cancer Institute, UK commented, "The investigation of the molecular biology of thyroid cancer has shown that thyroid cancer in children is very different from that in adults. Attention is turning to the effect that age of the patient may have on other types of cancers. A better understanding of the biology of cancer will help us tailor treatments to different groups of patients in the future."

"Through the catastrophic accident at Chernobyl we have been able to glean further insight into the precise molecular link between radiation and cancer," stated Dr Thomas. "These study findings may have important implications for other ongoing investigations, such as those which are looking at the molecular nature of breast cancer in women who have previously undergone radiotherapy treatment for Hodgkin’s disease. There is much debate about whether we in Europe should reconsider nuclear power as an option to meet our increasing energy demands. It is important that we take the opportunity to study the consequences of the Chernobyl accident in a proper scientific way, so that we can balance the risks against the benefits of different solutions to the energy problem in an educated way."

Kirsten Mason | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fecs.be/emc.asp

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

Im Focus: Artificial Enzymes for Hydrogen Conversion

Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.

Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices

19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A simple additive to improve film quality

19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>