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Microbeams are ideally suited to the study of so-called 'non-targeted' phenomena that are now known to occur when living cells and tissues are irradiated. Non-targeted effects are those where cells are seen to respond to ionising radiation through pathways other than direct damage to the DNA. One such phenomenon is the 'bystander effect'; the observation that unirradiated cells can be damaged through signalling pathways initiated by a nearby irradiated cell. The effect leads to a highly non-linear dose-response at low doses and is forcing a rethink of established models used to estimate low-dose radiation risk, which are largely based on linear extrapolations from epidemiological data at much higher doses. The bystander effect may also provide an opportunity for improvements in the treatment of cancer by radiotherapy, as it may be possible to chemically influence the bystander response in such a way as to enhance cell killing in tumour cells or to protect healthy tissue. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Conference paper

Publication Date





446 - 450