In the framework of international cooperation, the assistant of the Department of General Chemistry of the Belarusian State Medical University Viktor Poboynev completed an internship in Nagasaki on the topic “Radiation Health Effects” from July 16, 2019 to August 15, 2019.
The internship program included a course on the effects of radiation on humans and a course on molecular biology and bioinformatics at the Department of Human Genetics at the Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University. This internship was organized by the Nagasaki Association for Hibakushas' Medical Care (NASHIM). Since its founding in 1992, this organization has been hosting specialists from the Republic of Belarus, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. This year the delegation included 6 people.
The city of Nagasaki was not accidentally been chosen to create NASHIM and conduct courses aimed at training doctors on radiation issues. Everyone remembers that Nagasaki is one of two cities that have been bombed. This event occurred on August 9, 1945 at 11 hours 02 minutes. To date, there are 179,226 victims of the atomic explosion. In Japan, this category of people is called hibakusha. The Japanese government is anxious about them. A number of foundations and organizations have been established to study the consequences that these individuals suffered during the bombing, providing medical and social assistance to these people. Moreover, a separate institute has been established to study diseases caused by radiation.
Every year, a peace ceremony is held in Nagasaki, the purpose of which is to preserve the memory of people who died during the atomic bombing. Thanks to the organizers of the internship on August 9, the delegation was able to participate in the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, to communicate with the hibakusha survivors of the atomic bombing in 1945. The importance of this event for the whole country and the world is underlined by the fact that the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and guests from more than seven dozen countries attended the ceremony. The ceremony was held in Peace Park.
The history of cooperation between Belarus and Japan has several decades. Japan was the first to respond to the call of the World Health Organization and the government of the former USSR for assistance to the population affected by the Chernobyl accident. After Mikhail Gorbachev appeal to the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, in 1990 in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, the Foundation’s Chernobyl project was launched. In five cities most affected by radiation - Gomel, Mogilev, Korystyn, Kiev, Klintsy - diagnostic laboratories for the study of blood and thyroid gland were opened. It was here that Japanese doctors, already working in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, shared their experiences. For ten years, about 185 thousand children have been diagnosed in these centers. The joint work allowed Japan to bring out a number of lessons that helped lower radiation dose of the population after the Fukushima accident in 2011.
During the internship, lectures were given on healthcare management for persons affected by the explosion; the consequences of accidents at the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plants, their similarities and differences; lessons that were learned after these accidents. The huge importance of radiation biology, methods for studying the human genome was also highlighted. Part of the lectures, of course, was devoted to thyroid cancer in adults and children, bone marrow transplantation and stem cells, modern approaches to the diagnosis of pathological processes in the body. For all the variety of lecture topics, a comprehensive understanding of the effects of radiation is emerging, starting from the molecular level. The organizers touched upon the topics of epidemiology and statistics.
During the stay in Japan, the delegation was received by the governor of Nagasaki Prefecture, the mayor of Nagasaki, the rector of the University of Nagasaki, the dean of the medical faculty, the heads of clinical and public organizations, and medical practitioners.
The internship program included a visit to the atomic bomb museum and the memorial hall of the victims of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The museum features photographs, relics and documents, as well as a video dedicated to the bombing of the city. All this makes it possible to imagine the full power of an atomic explosion, which is very important in order to disseminate information to people about all the horror that an atomic explosion brings. A visit to this museum gives a huge message to never again use atomic weapons, the history of which is also reflected in the museum.
The second half of the training course involved an individual internship. Viktor Poboynev studied at the Department of Human Genetics of the Atomic Bomb Disease Institute. During the time spent at this department, projects that were conducted by both the Belarusian and Japanese sides were discussed. So, the Department of Human Genetics is participating in a project dedicated to the study of rare and undiagnosed diseases in pediatrics. Work in the department took place in a friendly working environment. During the time Viktor Poboynev was introduced with the capabilities of the department, existing equipment, including the new generation sequencers Miseq Illumina and Illumina HiSeq 2500. New generation sequencing (NGS) allows you to quickly and with high accuracy to obtain data on the primary DNA or RNA sequence. Massively parallel analysis of short DNA fragments allows you to analyze a large amount of data in a short time, and modern bioinformatics methods, the importance of which is growing rapidly, help to recreate from the obtained fragments the primary sequence of the original DNA with a length of several million pairs of nucleotides.
The molecular differences in the consequences of radiation exposure during accidents at the Chernobyl and Fukushima, the procedure of directed mutagenesis and molecular cloning and the structural instability of human serum albumin were studied. The results are embedded in the educational process of the Department of General Chemistry. At the end of the internship, NASHIM Chairperson awarded certificates of successful completion of the courses.
Author: Poboynev Victor, Assistant of the Department of General Chemistry