The RTGene study was focused on the development and validation of new transcriptional biomarkers for prediction of individual radiotherapy patient responses to ionizing radiation. In parallel, for validation purposes, this study incorporated conventional biomarkers of radiation exposure, including the dicentric assay. Peripheral blood samples were taken with ethical approval and informed consent from a total of 20 patients undergoing external beam radiotherapy for breast, lung, gastrointestinal or genitourinary tumors. For the dicentric assay, two samples were taken from each patient: prior to radiotherapy and before the final fraction. Blood samples were set up using standard methods for the dicentric assay. All the baseline samples had dicentric frequencies consistent with the expected background for the normal population. For blood taken before the final fraction, all the samples displayed distributions of aberrations, which are indicative of partial-body exposures. Whole-body and partial-body cytogenetic doses were calculated with reference to a 250-kVp X-ray calibration curve and then compared to the dose to blood derived using two newly developed blood dosimetric models. Initial comparisons indicated that the relationship between these measures of dose appear very promising, with a correlation of 0.88 (P = 0.001). A new Bayesian zero-inflated Poisson finite mixture method was applied to the dicentric data, and partial-body dose estimates showed no significant difference (P > 0.999) from those calculated by the contaminated Poisson technique. The next step will be further development and validation in a larger patient group.
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Vol. 190 • No. 6