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Ionizing radiation can cause a wide variety of damage to a cell. The most feared damages in the long term are those that affect DNA molecules (chromosomal reshuffling, mutations, etc.), which can lead to serious dysfunctions. Nevertheless, cells do have the means to repair these damages. To study the biological response to ionizing radiation and the potential functional disorders that could follow such an exposure, researchers at the IRCM, a department of the François Jacob Institute of Biology (at the CEA site in Fontenay-aux-Roses), draw on their expertise regarding the mechanisms for maintaining genome integrity.
The researchers pay close attention to the effects of radiation on stem cells. These undifferentiated cells give rise to the functional cells of an organ or tissue. For example, hematopoietic stem cells differentiate into the blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets). Any modification of their genome can be harmful, especially since it will be transmitted to numerous daughter cells. Researchers at IRCM thus study the mechanisms of transmitting radiation-induced damages.
Since the cellular mechanisms for maintaining genome integrity are also involved in the development of cancer, the teams at the IRCM have acquired expertise in certain cancers. Their work thus finds applications in therapeutic innovation or the improvement of radiotherapy protocols.
Researchers from the IRCM at the François Jacob Institute of Biology (Fontenay-aux-Roses) are also interested in the responses of living organisms to other types of attacks and are trying to determine the effects of endocrine disrupters (phthalates, bisphenols) and nanoparticles (nanotoxicology).
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.