Last update on August 2015
The RENEB project (Realizing European Network in Biodosimetry), which began in January 2012 and will end in late 2015, consists of the formation and implementation of the European biological dosimetry network. It is funded by the European Commission within the framework of the FP7-Fission-2011 call for proposals.
Background and goals
In a radiological emergency, biodosimetry (dicentrics, micronuclei, EPR methods, etc.) is a vital tool for determining the doses received by a large number of victims. It helps to identify those who have actually been exposed and need medical care as opposed to those who have received little or no radiation. To cope with large-scale dose assessment, it is necessary to be able to mobilize substantial resources very quickly. One solution is to form a network of laboratories with experience in standardized practices, which are used to work together to ensure the doses received by the victims are correctly evaluated. There are already various biodosimetry networks throughout the world: a network of six laboratories has been formed in Latin America, run by the IAEA, and there are similar national networks in Japan and Canada.
In Europe a memorandum of understanding and mutual aid agreement exist since 2004 between France, Germany and the United Kingdom, but it only applies to events on their territory. A feasibility study of a Europe-wide network was carried out in 2009 as part of the TENEB project under FP7.
The European RENEB program was launched on the basis of the TENEB project's conclusions. Twenty-three laboratory members in 16 countries were selected to form the network.
Results and prospects
During the program, the RENEB network has been set up and is now operational. It has to be maintained by regular interlaboratory comparisons.
To harmonize the practices of the different laboratories in the RENEB network, IRSN has produced a quality manual for the various biological and physical dosimetry techniques that can be used in a major radiological emergency. The manual and its appendices set out the organizational and traceability rules to be followed and the standard protocols established within the partnership, with the aim of harmonizing the working methods of the European laboratories in the network.
In 2015, 19 European reference laboratories – including IRSN's LDB and LDRI laboratories – were qualified to be activated in case of emergency. The network is still open to other partner laboratories that want to join (following interlaboratory comparisons, training, etc.). Other European participants joined RENEB as dosimetry laboratories in the course of the project, and they now have to undergo interlaboratory comparisons. Connections with other networks in existence (in Asia, Latin America and South Africa) have been established during the program.
Besides the role it would play in a radiological emergency, the RENEB network is seeking to take part in research requiring the analysis of a large number of samples (molecular epidemiology). Connections with European platforms such as Neris, Melodi, Eurados and Alliance have been initiated. Due to a level of competence guaranteed through intercomparisons and traceability ensured by quality procedures, the use of this network ensures obtaining reliable accurate results.
The RENEB network is built around five work packages (WPs):
- WP 1 (coordinated by Stockholm University) aims to establish the operational basis of the network, based on the coordination of existing biodosimetry methods (dicentric chromosome assay, FISH assay, Gamma-H2AX assay, EPR/OSL techniques, etc.);
- WP 2 (coordinated by HMGU) aims to ensure the renewal of the network through the evaluation of future partners. In parallel, the working group gathers new dosimetry methods developed through research;
- WP3 (coordinated by IRSN) aims to harmonize experimental procedures to ensure high standards are maintained. A Quality Assurance (QA) conference was organized at IRSN in September 2013. The working group is seeking to extend the training of the network's members to techniques in which they are not specialists. Finally, IRSN has been given responsibility for assessing the technical integration of the partners by means of operational exercises (in liaison with WP1) and for establishing a long-term QA program to maintain the network's operational preparedness;
- WP4 (coordinated by BfS) is responsible for establishing the operational structure of the RENEB network. This structure, linked to various European platforms (Melodi, Alliance-Era), is based on a transnational infrastructure which should facilitate the shipment and processing of biological samples. This WP has drawn up a timetable for establishing RENEB as an official organization and has prepared a long-term funding strategy;
- WP5 (coordinated by NRPA) aims to promote the network's activities and the sharing of knowledge by linking RENEB to other similar networks (Rempan, Ranet, etc.).
A sixth working group (WP6) looks after the overall management of the project.
The RENEB kickoff meeting was held in Berlin (Germany) in January 2012, with 53 participants including experts from the IAEA, WHO, etc. The second plenary meeting and general assembly, organized by IRSN, was held in Nice (France) in February 2013, while the third was in Valencia (Spain) in February 2014. The fourth took place in Rome (Italy) in the early part of 2015 and the final workshop of the project will be held in Lisbon (Portugal) in December 2015.