Risk of Space Radiation-Induced Lung Carcinogenesis

The dream of deep space travel and exploration to other planets has been of enormous interest to humanity since before man first landed on the moon. One of the goals of our lab is to understand how radiation from the deep space environment will impact the risk of lung carcinogenesis in male and female astronauts, particularly in the context of a manned mission to Mars. To accomplish this goal, we are using a wild-type BALB/c mouse model of male and female mice exposed to radiation that an astronaut might receive on a manned mission to Mars. These exposure types include gamma irradiation (137Cs), heavy ion irradiation (600 MeV/amu 16Si), and a mixture of ion beams delivered sequentially to mimic the diversity of the galactic cosmic ray (GCR) environment. All irradiations are performed at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) within the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL), a facility dedicated to providing support to physical and biological experiments understanding the risk of deep space travel on human health.

Our space radiation-induced lung carcinogenesis study will address the following questions:

  • Is there a sex or radiation quality difference in the incidence, type, and aggressiveness of lung carcinogenesis caused by the exposure to deep space radiation?
  • Is there a genomic signature for space radiation-induced lung cancer?
  • Can space radiation-induced cancers be detected early through the use of circulating biomarkers taken through a blood sample?
  • Will the risk of lung carcinogenesis be mitigated with administration of the radioprotector GC4419?

Tissue samples are available for other investigators as a part of the NASA tissue-sharing program.