DNA damage from exposure to ionizing radiation (Image: Gerriet41)
DNA damage is repaired by a special enzyme, DNA ligase, shown encircling the DNA double helix to repair a broken strand of DNA (Photo: Tom Ellenberger, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis)
Researchers have developed a simple blood test to determine a patient's exposure to ionizing radiation (Photo: Shutterstock)
Industrial and medical accidents have resulted in about 3,000 cases of acute radiation syndrome with over 100 deaths over the past 60 years. Far larger numbers are possible in the future from major reactor accidents or the use of dirty bombs. In the aftermath of a major incident, the radiation dosages of victims must be sorted out quickly, so that suitable treatment can begin as soon as possible. Medical researchers at the US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have now developed a simple blood test to determine the exposure of a patient to ionizing radiation, that can be carried out in the field with a hand-held analyzer.
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