The epidemiological study of Tinea capitis (ringworm) patients has proven useful for the study of carcinogenic effects of low dose radiation. In Dark.risk we will develop a new epidemiological cohort based upon the 24 000 cases irradiated in childhood that we will document to create the Serbian Registry of Tinaea Capitis Children (SRTCC). Unlike many other epidemiological cohorts SRTCC can be used to collect biological materials for molecular epidemiological studies.
Dark.risk will prepare the way to use SRTCC biomaterials to quantify the contribution of individual differences in sensitivity to risk from low doses of ionizing radiation. We will focus on a novel and unique process to identify individual differences. Until recently 95% of the human genome was considered to be non-translated junk" DNA. However, almost all of this dark matter is actively transcribed into a variety of non-coding RNA species (ncRNAs) that regulate interactions with the external environment, such as repressing retrotransposons, regulating gene transcription responses to stress, governing chromatic remodeling and coordinating the translation of mRNAs. The ncRNAs play an essential role in coordinating critical cellular responses to radiation such as maintenance of genomic stability, senescence, apoptosis and survival. As ncRNAs make major contributions to individual disease sensitivity we will investigate precisly how the dark matter regulates responses at low doses (1mGy to 500mGy), and how these responses vary between individuals.
Our long-term goal is to use ncRNAs as biological markers of exposure and outcome on an individual basis.