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University of California-Berkeley

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Superfund Research Program

Biomarkers of Carcinogenesis

Project Leader: Martyn T. Smith
Grant Number: P42ES004705
Funding Period: 1995 - 2006

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Project Summary (2000-2006)

This project is developing a new set of biomarkers that are on the causal pathway of environmentally induced cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, lung cancer and bladder cancer. The objective is to improve predictions of increased cancer risks over those made using currently available biomarkers. Novel, quantitative, real-time PCR methods are being designed to detect the specific chromosome rearrangements that are key factors in the development of leukemia and lymphoma. Methylation-specific PCR methods are allowing researchers to examine the methylation status of various cancer-related genes. In vitro cell culture studies with these new markers are examining the nature of the chromosomal damage and aberrant gene methylation produced in critical target cells by the Superfund chemicals, arsenic and benzene. The researchers are also using the real-time PCR methods to backtrack leukemia to birth in newborn blood samples from childhood leukemia cases collected in Project 2. This will determine if the translocations or inversions present in the blood of leukemia cases were present at birth and will open up new avenues for predicting childhood leukemia. In addition, the methylation specific-PCR methods are being applied to specific genes in leukemic marrow samples collected under Project 2, and in lung and bladder tumors from arsenic endemic areas collected under Project 3, to determine if chemical-specific gene methylation patterns exist in the tumors.

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