A University of Iowa researcher has won a 900-thousand dollar NASA grant to study how working in space might lead to cancer in humans. Fiorenza Ianzini, an assistant professor of pathology, says her research will involved radiation in space.
She says NASA wants to find out what can lead to potential cancer in cells exposed to galactic cosmic radiation.
Ianzini say they will investigate whether the radiation can cause mutations by disrupting normal cell division through a process known as mitotic catastrophe.
Ianzini says they’ll then try to link the mutations to carcinogens that lead to cancer. She says they’ll test the radiation on human cells.
Ianzini says they use cells from skin and lung tissue. Ianzini says there’s another part of the study that will look to see if certain people have cells that have a makeup that is more easily mutated in the face of radiation. Ianzini says if that is true then those people would be more susceptible to the breakdowns that lead to cancer. Ianzini says NASA could then screen people to avoid astronauts with those cells that might lead to cancer after being subjected to space radiation.
Ianzini says the research could eventually be used on earth to keep people with this problem from undergoing certain types of radiation on earth that might cause cancer. For instance, a person could be kept from a C-T scan if doctors found the scan could lead to cancer caused by the radiation. Ianzini’s study will take three years.