Cancer drugs affect mouse genomes for generations
DNA mutations continue to accumulate in offspring of treated mice.
The work emphasizes the importance of looking at the effects of chemotherapy not only on recipients, but also on their descendants. But Yuri Dubrova, a geneticist at the University of Leicester, UK, who led the study, cautions against extrapolating the results of this study to humans. Most adults treated for cancer are either too old to have children or become sterile from the treatment. "So we're talking about one group only: childhood cancer survivors," says Dubrova.
One recent study found no significant impact of radiation or chemotherapy on the rate of birth defects in 4,699 children of childhood cancer survivors2.
Furthermore, children who are treated for cancer will not have children of their own for years or decades afterwards. Mice only live about two years, and the ones in Dubrova's study reproduced a few months after their exposure to the drugs. "I would be very careful in interpreting this data," Dubrova says.
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