Genetic analysis of cancer cells from A-bomb survivors to be launched next spring

by Uzaemonnaotsuka Tokai, Staff Writer

Hiroshima University’s Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine (RIRBM) will begin analyzing the genes of cancer cells from A-bomb survivors (hibakusha) in spring 2010. It is hoped, through this analysis, that the mechanism of cancerous mutation resulting from exposure to radiation will be uncovered, which will eventually help find an effective cure.

It has been already established that exposure to radiation increases the risk of developing cancer, but it is not yet clear how chromosomes are damaged, triggering cancer. RIRBM will purchase the most advanced genome-decoding equipment, called a sequencer, in fiscal 2009 and proceed with the research in cooperation with Hiroshima University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

According to RIRBM, the researchers will ask patients at Hiroshima University Hospital and members of A-bomb survivors’ organizations to provide cancerous tissues, and compare their genomes with that of normal tissues. It is believed this research may reveal differences in the mechanism of the development of cancer between hibakusha and non-hibakusha.

Since genetic analysis could entail ethical issues, survivors will be given sufficient information before they agree to provide their tissues, and a third-party ethics committee must give its approval before the research actually starts.

Kenji Kamiya, the RIRBM director, is seeking to apply the findings of the research for personalized medical treatment, such as administering medication based on each patient’s genetic information.

(Originally published on June 26, 2009)