Researcher’s Profile

Regina M. Santella, PhD


Antibodies recognizing the DNA or protein adducts of benzo(a)pyrene (BP), a common environmental pollutant, are being used to measure exposure in individuals with dietary, lifestyle (cigarette smoke), workplace or environmental exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Immunohistochemical methods are measuring DNA damage in exfoliated oral and bladder cells
and in lymphocytes from those with exposure to cigarette smoke or other sources of PAH. Methods for measurement of oxidative damage to DNA (8-oxodeoxyguanosine), believed to be important in cancer and aging, are being used as intermediate biomarkers to determine efficacy in an antioxidant vitamin intervention study in smokers.

Extensive studies are investigating the role of aflatoxin B1, a dietary mold contaminant, in liver cancer in Taiwan. Urinary excretion of aflatoxin metabolites and DNA and protein adducts in blood and tissues are being measured in ecological correlation and nested case-control studies. Mutations in the P53 gene of tumors and genotype or phenotype for genes involved in carcinogen metabolism (e.g. glutathione S-transferase M1 and T1, cytochrome P450 3A4 and 1A2) are also being determined to better understand the relationship between exposure, genetic susceptibility and cancer risk.

Additional antibodies are currently being developed against the DNA adducts of aromatic amine food mutagens and the endogenous lipid peroxidation product, malondialdehye, to further investigate exogenous and endogenous carcinogens.

Research Statement: 

Development of immunologic methods for biological monitoring of human exposure to environmental and occupational carcinogens. These methods allow assessment of risk for cancer development at the individual level.