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Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2006;122(1-4):3-15. Epub 2007 Feb 2.

Energy deposition stochastics and track structure: what about the target?

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  • 1MRC Radiation and Genome Stability Unit, Harwell, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0RD, UK.


The broad field of microdosimetry, as reflected in the proceedings of the 13 previous symposia in this series, has been largely concerned with the microscopic stochastics of energy deposition from ionising radiations of different qualities, the ways in which these can be described and the information that they can provide towards mechanistic understanding of the biological effects of radiation and for practical applications. Directions of the research have been strongly influenced by technical developments at particular times, most notably the tissue-equivalent proportional counter and later Monte Carlo track-structure simulation methods. Essential to the research have been evolving notions as to characteristics of the relevant biological targets, and in particular their sizes and structures in relation to the microscopic features of the radiation. Over the decades since the first Symposium on Microdosimetry, in 1967, emphasis has fluctuated from key targets being assumed to be of nanometre dimensions, then up to one micrometer, ten micrometers, and then back again to a few nanometres. Some of these historical threads are traced through the successive symposia, culminating in current emphasis on the predominant importance of clustered damage in DNA, first revealed by track-structure simulations, but tempered by recognition also of the contribution that novel 'non-targeted' effects may play in the overall biological consequences of radiation.

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