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This Week in Science: May 15, 2015

In this week's Science Translational Medicine, a multi-institute team reports on a pattern of microRNA expression that can be used to predict injury from radiation exposure. While exposure to high-energy radiation can cause damage to all living tissue, the hematopoietic system is particularly susceptible to radiation toxicity. However, injury from radiation can take weeks or even months to manifest. By analyzing miRNA signatures in the blood of mice 24 hours after exposure to total body irradiation at low, high, and lethal levels, the team found a set of small RNAs that change in response to each radiation dose in correlation to injury to bone marrow cells. The signatures were also able to distinguish between lethal and non-lethal doses, and could be used to predict overall survival. The findings suggest that miRNAs may be used as a quick and accurate biomarker for use in radiation victims.

Also in Science Translational Medicine, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School discuss genomic testing as a clinical tool, arguing that physicians are ready to apply genomic data to patient care. They also recommend doctors receive training and support from specialists like genetic counselors to help with the integration of genomic medicine into routine practice. The Scan has more on this here.