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ECNIS2: towards ECNIS Centre for Research and Education on Cancer, Environment and Food

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Environmental factors in cancer

Environmental factors, nutrition and lifestyle play a major role in cancer development. Exploration of the environmental risks requires the use of biomarkers to monitor exposure and determine the resultant biological effects.

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The EU-funded ECNIS2: 'Towards ECNIS centre for research and education on cancer, environment and food' project and its predecessor ECNIS, brought together the best European research groups involved in cancer prevention. The ultimate goal of the project was the creation of research network to identify the environmental risks of cancer. That effort also included discovering genetic factors of cancer susceptibility and development of new diets with cancer preventive properties. A major focus of ECNIS was the identification and use of biomarkers of carcinogenesis. These are substances which can be measured in body fluids or tissues for information about exposure to carcinogens before the appearance of clinical disease. Genetic polymorphism also serves as a biomarker of individual susceptibility to carcinogenesis. ECNIS research also addressed the mechanisms of interaction between carcinogenic chemicals and food components. ECNIS2, a Coordination and Support Action, followed on from the ECNIS project and, with the objective of continuing the integrative and coordinative work initiated by ECNIS during the period 2005-2010. The ultimate goal is to transform the network into a virtual centre for research and education on cancer. More than 100 researchers from different disciplines (epidemiology, chemical analysis, genetics, molecular biology, nutrition, exposure assessment, risk assessment, harmonisation and standardisation of methodologies and analytical techniques) have been involved in the project putting together an molecular epidemiology and cancer database and an education and training programme comprising several training courses, a web-based training course, and a fellowship programme. The project also created a highly popular ECNIS repository for storage and access of digital documents dealing with the environmental hazards linked to cancer. These important achievements have helped improve the coordination of cancer research in Europe.

Keywords

Environmental factors, cancer, DNA lesion analysis, comet assay, genetic polymorphism

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