GERMANTOWN, Maryland and FUKUSHIMA PREFECTURE, Japan, July 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
- International project led by University of South Carolina aims to provide long-term data from Japan with aim to improve hazard assessment of nuclear accidents
- QIAGEN collaboration offers technologies and aid to develop new methods to rapidly assess radiation impact on DNA and other molecules
- First study results from Japan expected before the end of 2011, building on previous research work on the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster
A new international scientific expedition led by the University of South Carolina and supported by the biotechnology company QIAGEN is seeking to measure the genetic impact of radioactivity on animals and plants in areas surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan. The initiation of field work today in Japan marks the beginning of a long-term research project designed to better understand the actual impact of radiation on molecular building blocks of life such as DNA and the consequences for ecosystems. The work will build on research results gained following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster with an aim to provide more comprehensive data for hazard assessment of nuclear accidents.
The expedition team consists of biologists from the University of South Carolina in the U.S., the University of Paris-Sud in France, and the University of Tokyo, Fukushima University, and Nagasaki University in Japan. The University of South Carolina and University of Paris-Sud also have been leading an international research initiative started in 2000 to assess the long-term ecological and health consequences of radioactive contaminants from Chernobyl.
QIAGEN is providing the scientists with unique molecular technologies, including solutions for stabilization and protection of sensitive genetic material to prevent further damage that might affect the reliability of research results. QIAGEN also is assisting in developing and optimizing methods to assess the impact of radiation on DNA, RNA and other molecules of interest in animal and plant life. Initial results of the expedition are expected to be available before the end of 2011.
"The Fukushima disaster has stimulated intense public debate about the risks associated with nuclear energy. But very little is known about the actual long-term effects of such incidents on our environment and health," said Professor Tim Mousseau of the University of South Carolina, who is heading the research expedition. "Our work in Japan is a unique opportunity to learn more about the radiation-induced changes to individual organisms, species and the entire ecosystem and to monitor the development from the first generation onwards. We are glad to team up with QIAGEN, whose unique technologies are instrumental for this work."
"We believe this research project is of utmost importance and will help place the international debate regarding long-term effects of nuclear incidents such as Fukushima on a reliable footing," said Dr. Joachim Schorr, Senior Vice President Research and Development at QIAGEN. "We are proud to support the work of these eminent scientists, which showcases the importance of molecular technologies in environmental studies and will also aid the development of reliable methods for the rapid assessment of radiation-induced changes to the DNA."
The researchers plan to collect and analyze a variety of samples of insects, plants, and birds, focusing on geographically widespread species to allow for comparability of the research results with data generated during similar research expeditions to Chernobyl.
Unlike in the Ukraine, where contaminated areas remained inaccessible for extended periods, researchers in Japan expect for the very first time to examine both the parent generation directly affected by the nuclear catastrophe, as well as their first offspring after the incident. This will allow for a comprehensive study of cumulative effects of nuclear pollution and its consequences for individual animals, species and the ecosystem from the first generation onwards.
To this end, the research team will collect samples of blood and other tissues that will be analyzed on a genetic level to determine the intensity of damage to the DNA and RNA and whether these effects could multiply through future generations.
Researchers are planning to return to Fukushima on a regular basis, continuously expanding their scope of work to other species, and also to carry out studies in other regions where radiation levels are naturally higher, such as in India.
More information about the research project is available online at http://ots.de/aWodg . Pictures from Fukushima and Chernobyl are available upon request from QIAGEN's press office.
QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands holding company, is the leading global provider of sample and assay technologies. Sample technologies are used to isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from biological samples such as blood or tissue. Assay technologies are used to make such isolated bio-molecules visible. QIAGEN has developed and markets more than 500 sample and assay products as well as automated solutions for such consumables. The company provides its products to molecular diagnostics laboratories, academic researchers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and applied testing customers for purposes such as forensics, animal or food testing and pharmaceutical process control. QIAGEN's assay technologies include one of the broadest panels of molecular diagnostic tests available worldwide. This panel includes the digene HPV Test, which is regarded as a "gold standard" in testing for high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer, as well as a broad suite of solutions for infectious disease testing and companion diagnostics. QIAGEN employs nearly 3,600 people in over 30 locations worldwide. Further information about QIAGEN can be found at http://www.qiagen.com/.
Certain of the statements contained in this news release may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. To the extent that any of the statements contained herein relating to QIAGEN's products, markets, strategy or operating results, including without limitation its expected operating results, are forward-looking, such statements are based on current expectations and assumptions that involve a number of uncertainties and risks. Such uncertainties and risks include, but are not limited to, risks associated with management of growth and international operations (including the effects of currency fluctuations, regulatory processes and dependence on logistics), variability of operating results and allocations between business segments, the commercial development of markets for our products in applied testing, personalized healthcare, clinical research, proteomics, women's health/ HPV testing and nucleic acid-based molecular diagnostics; changing relationships with customers, suppliers and strategic partners; competition; rapid or unexpected changes in technologies; fluctuations in demand for QIAGEN's products (including fluctuations due to general economic conditions, the level and timing of customers' funding, budgets and other factors); our ability to obtain regulatory approval of our products; difficulties in successfully adapting QIAGEN's products to integrated solutions and producing such products; the ability of QIAGEN to identify and develop new products and to differentiate and protect our products from competitors' products; market acceptance of QIAGEN's new products and the integration of acquired technologies and businesses. For further information, please refer to the discussions in reports that QIAGEN has filed with, or furnished to, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
SOURCE Qiagen N V