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The risks and uses of X-ray radiation

Arbeitsgruppe-Strahlen-Immunbiologie / Foto: Uni-Klinikum Erlangen

Working group on Radiation Immunobiology at Erlangen Uni Clinic with Dr. Benjamin Frey (Front row, 2nd from left) and PD Dr. Udo Gaipl (Front row, 4th from left). (Photo: Erlangen University Clinic)

The Erlangen University Clinic’s Radiation Clinic is a partner in the EU Excellence Network for low dose research

The application submitted by the research team headed by academics PD Dr. Udo Gaipl and Dr. Benjamin Frey from Radiation Immunobiology at the Erlangen Radiation Clinic was successful. From July 2011 to December 2016 it will be one of 22 supported partner organisations participating in the DoReMi Excellence Network (Low Dose Research towards Multidisciplinary Integration), tasked with furthering low dose research in Europe. Erlangen’s scientists are involved in a project to influence inflammation through low and moderate doses of ionising radiation (ModInIr).

The accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant shook people around the world, forcing them to get to grips with the affects radiation has on the human organism. Radiation emissions at work and in diagnostic and therapeutic medicine are increasingly submitted to a risk/benefit calculation. Beyond the potential damaging effects of X-ray radiation, it is undisputed that approx. 40,000 patients in Germany use low or moderate dose therapies every year to improve their inflammatory and degenerative illnesses.

However, to date only very little is known about the biological action mechanisms and the dose/effect relationship of low doses of radiation. In order to coordinate the generation of solid knowledge in the areas of fusion energy, nuclear fission and radiation protection an expert group for European low dose research – (High Level Expert Group on European low dose risk research (HLEG)) – was founded in 2008 at the initiative of five member states (Finland, France, Germany, Italy and the U.K.) and the European Commission’s Euratom Programme. In January 2010 the European Excellence Network DoReMi was formed from the HLEG. The external tendering, won by the research team led by PD Dr. Gaipl and Dr. Frey from Erlangen Radiation Clinic’s Radiation Immunobiology department, aims to add institutions to the network that have considerable expertise and important competences in the area of low dose research, particularly on the specific influences (modulations) on the immune system from defined low radiation doses.

Within the framework of the project now being financed at the Erlangen Radiation Clinic (Director: Prof. Dr. Rainer Fietkau), two doctoral students, in natural sciences and medicine, are researching modulation in immunological reactions caused by radiation with the dose/effect relationship, which have a role to play both as regards tumour formation and reducing chronic inflammation in conjunction with different in vitro and in vivo inflammation models. Based on their findings, the Radiation Immunobiology research team hopes to better understand the action mechanisms of X-ray radiation treatments used on inflammatory diseases and, above all, to optimise these treatments accordingly to achieve the maximum possible anti-inflammatory effect with the lowest possible dose of radiation. A further important discovery to come from this work will be how low doses of radiation can affect the development of tumours through modulations of the immune cells involved in inflammation.

Further information for the media:

PD Dr. Udo Gaipl
Tel.: 09131/85-32311
udo.gaipl@uk-erlangen.de

uni | media service | research No. 48/2011 on 30.9.2011

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