Scientists find a key to radiation resistance

A study carried out by Michael Daly and his team at the ‘Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ in Bethesda, Maryland, has put new lights on the effect of radiation on DNA. According to Daly, it has long been thought that radiation was dangerous because it shatters DNA into fragment but, instead it is protein damage that is the killer. Daly says: The ability of cells to survive radiation is highly dependent on the amount of protein damage caused during irradiation. The bacteria Deinococcus radiodurans, which is nicknamed ‘Conan the Bacterium’ because of its high radiation resisting ability, was used in the study done by Daly and his team. Daly and his team exposed Deinococcus and other resistant bacteria to radiation and found that the resilience of a cell’s repair proteins is linked to the number of manganese ions in the cell. Manganese prevents oxidative damage to repair proteins and allows them to swing into action after radiation has damaged DNA. The study shows that it doesn’t matter even if your DNA is shattered, as long as the repair proteins are intact the DNA can be stitched back. According to Daly, it may be possible to increase radiation resistance by delivering Deinococcus repair proteins into animal cells. This could be useful in space travel, where radiation sickness is the main setback. Source.

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