Preparing for quick radiation diagnostic test in case of a nuclear disaster

dose. We hope this paper can begin to identify these biomarkers and confirm genes that are radiation responsive.”

Arizona says that the UA Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine is on the forefront of developing radiation treatment and diagnostics. In collaboration with Columbia University, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Georgetown University, the center has been co-sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for fourteen years. The partnerships have resulted in leading the development of gene expression-based biodosimetry technology platforms sponsored by several contracts with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

The center has expanded its areas of research applications in radiation biology, including:

  Radio-sensitizing drugs: Oncologists may be able to prescribe a cancer patient a drug that could enhance the effect of radiation on their tumor. The lab investigates natural compounds found in plants that show promise in halting the growth of cancer cells.

  Radiotherapy treatments: The lab is looking into the effects of a high single radiation dose versus the same dose delivered in several fractions. Now, patients being treated for breast cancer usually receive about 30 fractions of two-grade doses. With improvements in technology, clinicians try to limit the number of fractions and therefore increase the radiation dose for each of them.

  Human organ-on-a-chip and microbiomes: Scientists are attempting to investigate radiation response through various novel devices, such as the “gut-on-a-chip.” This technology allows researchers to analyze the complex interactions between human cells and microbial ecosystems, predicting the effect of space radiation on the human gut during long missions beyond low Earth orbit.

  Engineered tissue models: The lab is developing a plant-based platform that provides cellulose scaffolds by treating leaves with detergents to remove all traces of plant cells, DNA and proteins. The resulting scaffold then is used as a 3D matrix and repopulated with various human cells to create a vascularized cancer tumor model so the role of the microenvironment in tumor radiation response can be investigated.

— Read more in Jerome Lacombe et al., “Candidate gene biodosimetry markers of exposure to external ionizing radiation in human blood: A systematic review,” PLOS ONE 13, no. 6 (7 June 2018) (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0198851)