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By PS Chauhan and PM Gopinath

Publisher - QUEST Publication Mumbai 400 086.

The book “ENVIRONMENTAL MUTAGENESIS AND CARCINOGENESIS” Vol. 3 eds. PS Chauhan and PM Gopinath is the proceedings of annual conference organised by Environmental Mutagen Society of India with participation of eminent scientists from different countries.

Emergence of industrial society and use of chemicals of diverse nature can influence human health in several ways. However, serious concern is being expressed on more subtle and irreversible hazards such as development of cancer, birth defects and heritable genetic diseases. Currently mutagenesis is being investigated at various levels beginning from the phenotype to the genome chromosome and single gene levels. In this book there is a blend of articles covering basic DNA repair mechanisms, gene mutations in prokaryocytes, cytogenetics in rodents and human lymphocytes, heritable mutations in mice, population monitoring risk assessment and modulations.

First article “Repair of UV-induced damage in specific sequences and genomic-regions” is the continuation of earlier work on chromatin structure in DNA repair with more advanced studies focussing on UV induced damage in cultured mammalian cells at the state University of Leiden. The next article “Relationship between DNA adducts and HPRT Mutation spectra in mammalian cells” also from the same university shows that mutations reside in a large fraction of nucleotides in the coding region of the hpt gene, indicating the hpt gene provides a broad window for the phenotypic expression of mutations. Another article from the same university “Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) in Genetic Toxicology” deals with fluorescent in situ hybridization technique using specific DNA probes and some applications of this technique.

Another commendable work on “current status of animal mediated assays with bacterial indicators” a joint venture from university of vienna, Austria and National Institute of health and environmental protection also from Netherlands showing bacterial animal assays are also a suitable approach to study co and antimutagenic effects of dietary and environmental factors on the DNA damaging properties of carcinogens. Mention may also be made about some cytogenetic data from Italy and in vivo cytogenetic analysis from Warmer Lambert company, Ann Arbot. There are few other works from outside India. Three from USA. (i) The evaluation of mutagenic Risks Associated with pharmaceutical products and (ii) Gene expression and variability in carcinogenicity Assays" of which latter one from University of Arkansas requires special mention, suggesting that there are phenotype subpopulations of identical genotypes which differ in their responsiveness of carcinogenic stimuli. The other one (iii) Differences in Randon induced micronuclei between human bronchial epithelial cells and rat lung" from Richland is also interesting showing dividing rat lung cells are more sensitive to randon than non dividing cells which might be tested in multiple species including those of humans. Two papers from Germany (1) Mutations in the F1 generation of mice (2) “Flow cytogenetic studies in tumour development and progression” also make significant contributions in the respective field of study.

However, I shall like to refer to two papers out of four presented from this country. (i) Mutation and sister chromatid exchange in gene amplified V79 cells from Institute of Nuclear Physics, Calcutta and (ii) On the optimization and application of sister chromatid exchanges (SCE) and cytokinesis blocked micronuclei (CBMN) in Human Lymphocytes for cytogenic monitoring. The former shows genticin resistant character was lost from the amplified cells at a significant rate and the latter suggesting CBMN assay as a more convenient and rapid alternative cytogenetic method for detection of chromosomal damage in laboratory models of human populations. Other two papers (i) A newer approach to reduced toxicity and carcinogenicity of chemicals and drugs" from Bose institute Calcutta is a welcome approach as the title suggests and the other one (ii) Genetic diseases in rural and industrial areas" is an interesting study particularly the Dot Blot analysis of B-thalassaemias showing different types of mutation.

Finally I shall like to point out that publication of the proceedings are not uniform some with abstracts and some without concluding remarks. On the whole the quality of papers presented was good and complication of results and publication in the form of a book will serve as a guide line for better work in the field and contribute to public awareness about environmental hazards from chemicals leading to avoidable consequences of their long term toxic effects.

Director, Bombay Hospital, Medical Research Centre.

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