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Study to examine nuclear test veterans for genetic damage

A three-year £450,000 cytogenetic study by Brunel University London’s Dr Rhona Anderson will carry out chromosomal analysis of cells from nuclear test veterans and their children.

Researchers will look for any cytogenetic alterations to ascertain if there are any differences between nuclear veteran and control family groups.

The need to research for potential genetic damage amongst nuclear test veterans and the possibility of transmitted genetic alterations in their children has been a cornerstone requirement identified by British Nuclear Test Veteran Association members for many years.

The recent award by the Aged Veteran Fund (AVF) funded by the Chancellor from LIBOR funds is now enabling such investigations to take place in a study which will be led by Dr Anderson in collaboration with Professor Julian Peto from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

 Dr Anderson is internationally recognised as an expert in radiation cytogenetics – the study of the effects of radiation on chromosomes -and is group leader of the Laboratory of Genome Damage within Brunel’s Institute of Environment, Health and Societies.

She said: “This will be the first comprehensive cytogenetic exploration for possible differences between nuclear and control family groups to take place in the UK.

“The project will identify and recruit nuclear test veteran family trios (father, mother, child) to provide samples for cytogenetic analysis by a number of fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH)-based techniques to ascertain whether there is any evidence of elevated frequencies of chromosomal aberrations in the veterans and/or their children when compared to control families.

“The findings of this three-year project will address ongoing uncertainties in the veteran community. Participation in the study will be by invitation from the scientific team and will be based on established methodology.”

The research team is encouraging all those families, who are invited to participate, particularly those in the control group, to respond and gain a deeper insight into the scope of the project.