Cancer of the non-medullary (follicular epithelium) component of the thyroid is induced by external irradiation and by radionuclides deposited within the thyroid tissues. Estimates of the radiological risk of developing thyroid cancer are derived from epidemiological studies performed in populations receiving high doses. Extrapolation of this risk to exposures at much lower doses is compromised by the lack of an accurate model of the dose response curve for thyroid cancer at low doses. Moreover, such population-based estimates fail to take into account the contribution of individual genetic variability to the risk estimate. Individuals with an increased genetic predisposition to develop thyroid cancer are not identified, and it is precisely these individuals who will be at greatest risk at low doses. The GENRISK-T consortium is composed of thyroid cancer experts with experience in the fields of radiation biology, animal models of radiation-induced cancer, tumour banking, cancer biology, molecular genetics, histopathology, cytogenetics and risk modelling. We will use this interdisciplinary knowledge to define the genetic component influencing the risk of radiation-induced thyroid cancer. This will be achieved through a combination of studies using animal models and in human radiation-induced thyroid tumours. This new understanding of genetic risk modifiers will be used to develop an animal model of thyroid cancer that is responsive to low dose radiation in the cGy range, thereby providing an experimental solution to resolving the uncertainties of the low dose response curve.
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project