Protecting and improving human health is at the heart of the biological research being carried out in the Cancer Mechanisms and Biomarkers group. More specifically, we are trying to better understand the mechanisms by which acute or protracted ionising radiation exposure either of natural or medical origin interacts and affects cells and individuals.

Carcinogenesis is the process by which normal cells are transformed into cancer cells. Most cancers are probably initiated by a change in the cell's DNA sequence or an epigenetic modification. Although we know relatively well how radiation-induced DNA damage in cells occurs and the repair pathways involved, the rate-limiting step for new approaches for either preventing cancers or detecting them early is the fundamental lack of knowledge about the sequence of the earliest molecular events. One of our aims is to understand the role of these events by monitoring the progression of initiated, 'pre-cancerous' cells that acquire critical characteristics in a stepwise fashion sometimes over years after radiation exposure and this can be done in vivo.

Another related aim is to discover and validate biomarkers of radiation exposure, toxicity, long term effects and susceptibility using blood samples from healthy donors and cancer patients exposed to radiation from CT scans to radiotherapy treatments. Ultimately, this knowledge is used to support health decisions by the public and policymakers and will allow individual differences in sensitivity to be taken into account to better protect those at higher risk by regularly monitoring them, decreasing the risk and to intervene to treat cancer earlier.


National Institute for Health Research, Health Protection Research Units:

  • Chemical and Radiation Threats and Hazards
  • Health Impact of Environmental Hazards
  • The Cancer mechanisms and biomarkers group is actively involved in the Multidisciplinary European Low Dose Initiative (MELODI) and member of the European network of biological dosimetry (RENEB, Realizing the European Network of Biodosimetry, ) with which we participating to exercises where we receive coded blood samples exposed to unknown doses of ionising radiation which we have to analysed and provide rapid dose estimates.

External funding

National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), the European Community seventh framework programme. Project Risk, Stem Cells and Tissue Kinetics - Ionising Radiation (RISK-IR), project VIBRATO (OPERRA), project LEU-TRACK (CONCERT), the NIAID/NIH Centers for Medical Counter Measures Against Radiation Consortium (CMCRC) Program, the US department of Energy, the EMF trust and UK Department of Health.

Meet the Group

Areas for potential collaboration

We are continuously seeking potential collaborations with all research establishments (universities, institutes and government organisations) to study the effects of environmental agents on brain functions, epigenetics, and behaviour.

Contact us

Contact us if you would like to find out more detail or stay informed about a particular field of research. We are always interested in collaborating and are open to partnerships, to drive forward innovation for the benefit of the public.


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Last four years publications

  1. Brown N, Finnon R, Finnon R, McCarron R, Cruz-Garcia L, O'Brien G, Herbert E, Scudamore CL, Morel E and Christophe Badie. Hemizygous R235C Spi1 point mutation confers hypersensitivity to ionising radiation-induced Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) iScience 2023
  2. Polozov S, Cruz-Garcia L, O'Brien G, Goriacha V, Nasser F, Jeggo P, et al. Deficient radiation transcription response in COVID-19 patients. Advances in Radiation Oncology. 2023:101215.
  3. Cruz-Garcia L, Nasser F, O'Brien G, Grepl J, Vinnikov V, Starenkiy V, et al. Transcriptional Dynamics of DNA Damage Responsive Genes in Circulating Leukocytes during Radiotherapy. Cancers. 2022;14(11):2649.
  4. Karabulutoglu M, Finnon R, Cruz-Garcia L, Hill MA, Badie C. Oxidative Stress and X-ray Exposure Levels-Dependent Survival and Metabolic Changes in Murine HSPCs. Antioxidants. 2022;11(1):11.
  5. Cruz-Garcia L, Badie C, Anbalagan S, et al. An ionising radiation-induced specific transcriptional signature of inflammation-associated genes in whole blood from radiotherapy patients: A pilot study. Radiat Oncol 2021;16:83.
  6. Nasser F, Cruz-Garcia L, O'Brien G, et al. Role of blood derived cell fractions, temperature and sample transport on gene expression-based biological dosimetry. Int J Radiat Biol 2021;97:675-686.
  7. Cruz-Garcia L, O'Brien G, Sipos B, et al. In vivo validation of alternative fdxr transcripts in human blood in response to ionizing radiation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2020b;21.
  8. Cruz-Garcia, L., O'Brien, G., Sipos, B., Mayes, S., Love, M.I., Turner, D.J., and Badie, C. Generation of a transcriptional radiation exposure signature in human blood using long-read nanopore sequencing. Radiation Research (2020a).
  9. Frey B, Mika J, Jelonek K, Cruz-Garcia L, Roelants C, Testard I, et al. Systemic modulation of stress and immune parameters in patients treated for prostate adenocarcinoma by intensity-modulated radiation therapy or stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy. Strahlenther Onkol. 2020.
  10. O'Brien, G., Cruz-Garcia, L., Zyla, J., Brown, N., Finnon, R., Polanska, J. and Badie, C. Kras mutations and PU.1 promoter methylation are new pathways in murine radiation-induced AML. Carcinogenesis (2019).
  11. Balázs, K., Kis, E., Badie, C., Bogdándi, E. N., Candéias, S., Cruz Garcia, L., Dominczyk, I., Frey, B., Gaipl, U., Jurányi, Z. et al. Radiotherapy-Induced Changes in the Systemic Immune and Inflammation Parameters of Head and Neck Cancer Patients. 11(9), 1324 (2019).
  12. Polozov S, Cruz-Garcia L, Badie C. RAPID GENE EXPRESSION BASED DOSE ESTIMATION FOR RADIOLOGICAL EMERGENCIES. Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2019 Apr 23. pii: ncz053.
  13. Mansell E, Zareian N, Malouf C, Kapeni C, Brown N, Badie C, Baird D, Lane J, Ottersbach K, Blair A, Case CP. DNA damage signalling from the placenta to foetal blood as a potential mechanism for childhood leukaemia initiation. Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 13;9(1):4370.
  14. Zyla J, Kabacik S, O'Brien G, Wakil S, Al-Harbi N, Kaprio J, Badie C, Polanska J, Alsbeih G. Combining CDKN1A gene expression and genome-wide SNPs in a twin cohort to gain insight into the heritability of individual radiosensitivity. Funct Integr Genomics. 2019 Jan 31.
  15. Gault N, Verbiest T, Badie C, Romeo PH, Bouffler S.Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell responses to low radiation doses-implications for leukemia risk. Int J Radiat Biol.2019 Jan 17:1-8.