Joint research involving A-bomb diseases to begin

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

The Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) will begin building a network of medical institutions so that tissue samples of A-bomb survivors can be preserved for research. Such samples have been collected through surgery and examinations of survivors and kept at institutions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki for many years. The network will support research into the effects of radiation on human bodies. Toshiteru Okubo, chairman of RERF, announced the plan at a news conference following the meeting of its Scientific Council on March 4.

RERF will create cooperative ties with these medical institutions and, with the help of rapidly-improving technology that can analyze tissue samples at the molecular level, conduct joint research to discover the mechanism by which A-bomb diseases develop.

According to RERF, since the 1950s, medical institutions in Hiroshima have obtained and preserved tissue samples from A-bomb survivors with the consent of survivors or their families at the time of cancer surgery or examinations. However, as these institutions have limited storage space, there are concerns these samples might be disposed of or dispersed.

In line with these concerns, RERF will, in fiscal 2009, make requests of six hospitals in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to preserve their tissue samples. It will also check the number of these samples and the storage conditions of each facility as it develops a defined research program.

Dr. Katsushi Tokunaga, the co-chair of the Scientific Council and professor of the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Tokyo, commented, “Use of cutting-edge genomic analysis technology and a cooperative structure among the institutions is essential in order to proceed with effective research.”

RERF also announced a policy of resuming research into the health of second-generation survivors in fiscal 2009, working with about 14,000 survivors and conducting ongoing health checks once every four years.

(Originally published on March 5, 2009)

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