In this section
Protecting and improving human health is at the heart of the biological research being carried out in the Cancer Mechanisms and Biomarkers group. More specifically, we are trying to better understand the mechanisms by which acute or protracted ionising radiation exposure either of natural or medical origin interacts and affects cells and individuals.
Carcinogenesis is the process by which normal cells are transformed into cancer cells. Most cancers are probably initiated by a change in the cell's DNA sequence or an epigenetic modification. Although we know relatively well how radiation-induced DNA damage in cells occurs and the repair pathways involved, it is clear that the rate-limiting step for new approaches for either preventing cancers or detecting them early is the fundamental lack of knowledge about the sequence of the earliest molecular events. One of our aim is understand the role of these events by monitoring the progression of initiated, 'pre-cancerous' cells that acquire critical characteristics in a stepwise fashion sometimes over years after radiation exposure and this can be done in vivo. Another related aim is to discover and validate biomarkers of radiation exposure, toxicity, long term effects and susceptibility using blood samples from healthy donors and cancer patients exposed to radiation from CT scans to radiotherapy treatments. Ultimately, this knowledge is used to support health decisions by the public and policy-makers and will allow individual differences in sensitivity to be taken into account to better protect those at higher risk by regularly monitoring them, decreasing the risk and to intervene to treat cancer earlier.
National Institute for Health Research, Health Protection Research Units:
Past and current:National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), the European Community seventh framework programme. Project Risk, Stem Cells and Tissue Kinetics - Ionising Radiation (RISK-IR), project VIBRATO (OPERRA), project LEU-TRACK (CONCERT), the NIAID/NIH Centers for Medical Counter Measures Against Radiation Consortium (CMCRC) Program, the US department of Energy, the EMF trust and UK Department of Health.
Christophe identified the first radiotherapy patient whose radiation toxicity was due to a defect in DNA DSB repair which was thought to be almost incompatible with survival at the time; it was found later that the patient had a mutation in ligase IV. After several post-doctorate positions, Christophe became in 2005 the head of the Cancer Mechanisms and Biomarkers group in the Radiation Effects department.
We are continuously seeking potential collaborations with all research establishments (universities, institutes and government organisations) to study the effects of elctromagnetic fields and other agents on behaviour, the circadian clock and brain function.
Contact us if you would like to find out more detail or stay informed about a particular field of research. We are always interested in collaborating and are open to partnerships, to drive forward innovation for the benefit of the public.