In the event of a mass casualty radiation incident, the gamma-H2AX foci assay could be a useful tool to estimate radiation doses received by individuals. The rapid processing time of blood samples of just a few hours and the potential for batch processing, enabling high throughput, make the assay ideal for early triage categorisation to separate the 'worried well' from the low and critically exposed by quantifying radiation-induced foci in peripheral blood lymphocytes. Within the RENEB framework, 8 European laboratories have taken part in the first European gamma-H2AX biodosimetry exercise, which consisted of a telescoring comparison of 200 circulated foci images taken from 8 samples, and a comparison of 10 fresh blood lymphocyte samples that were shipped overnight to participating labs 4 or 24 h post-exposure. Despite large variations between laboratories in the dose-response relationship for foci induction, the obtained results indicate that the network should be able to use the gamma-H2AX assay for rapidly identifying the most severely exposed individuals within a cohort who could then be prioritised for accurate chromosome dosimetry.
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