Molecular biology approaches to biological monitoring of genotoxic substances
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Genetic testing is subdivided into genetic monitoring (evaluation over time of induced genetic changes) and genetic screening (detection of inherited traits). Genetic factors in relation to susceptibility to environmental agents are briefly examined, as well as mutation assays suitable for use in genetic monitoring, techniques for identifying specific DNA lesions, and oncogene products as biomarkers. In vitro studies with AS52 Chinese hamster ovary cells indicate that the distribution of lesions (e.g., point mutations or segment deletions) at the xanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl transferase (gpt) gene in mutants generated by exposure to nickel compounds show some substance specificity. This ability is viewed as a promising development for the molecular epidemiology of occupational and environmental cancers. It is concluded that technical limitations pertaining to specificity and sensitivity, as well as ethical and legal implications, need to be resolved before routine application of genetic monitoring and screening is feasible.
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