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Cytogenetic Biodosimetry Laboratory Helps Develop International Chromosome-Scoring Network

Cytogenetic  Biodosimetry Laboratory Helps Develop International Web-Based,  Chromosome-Scoring Network

ORISE CBL Director Dr. Gordon Livingston examines metaphase images similar to the ones that were used for a digital-scoring exercise involving 15 cytogeneticists located in eight countries.

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Cytogenetic Biodosimetry Laboratory (CBL), a part of the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS), recently took a huge step forward in its support to the World Health Organization’s BioDoseNet by leading an international chromosome-scoring exercise intended to test the ability of member laboratories to provide emergency triage and radiation dose assessment via the Internet.

How ORISE is Making a Difference

In October 2009, ORISE CBL Director Dr. Gordon Livingston and REAC/TS’ Dr. Mark Jenkins recruited 15 cytogeneticists (located in eight countries) to independently examine the same 20 electronic metaphase images, looking for structural chromosome damages, and then share their results with the CBL.

With only a handful of cytogenetic biodosimetry laboratories throughout the world, BioDoseNet allows member laboratories to provide each other support in the event of a large-scale radiation emergency where the capabilities of an individual member could easily be overwhelmed. Cytogenetic biodosimetry uses the human body's response to radiation as the basis for accurately estimating the radiation dose received.

For this preliminary exercise, images were e-mailed to participating “readers” who were able to verify the concept using the 20 electronic metaphase cell images—all of which showed chromosome damages induced by radiation. Scoring included the total yields of chromosome abnormalities, including dicentrics, tricentrics and quadracentrics, for each metaphase spread.

According to Livingston, results showed excellent agreement among the readers who each evaluated the same set of electronic images.

The successful pilot study coincides with the CBL taking a lead role in the development of an entirely Web-based scoring system, which is being funded by a $150,000 technology integration grant from the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Office of Emergency Response.

The ultimate goal is to have multiple galleries of metaphase images available for analysis via a dedicated Web site that would be hosted by ORISE. The secure site would allow participating readers to view metaphase images online and make their scoring results available to fellow participants for comparison.

“Once implemented, the Web-based scoring system is expected to increase the processing capacity in countries located in North and South America, Europe and Asia where the majority of the world’s specialized cytogenetic biodosimetry laboratories are located,” Livingston said.