The June 2021 EMM Editor's Choice article is “Implications of an epidemiological study showing an association between in utero NDMA exposure and childhood cancer” (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/em.22434) by Bevin Engelward.
June's EMM Editor's Choice, a commentary by MIT professor Bevin Engelward, provides an accessible and compelling narrative of events involving the research by the MIT Superfund Research Program (SRP) to investigate the potential mechanism for cancers thought to be induced by NDMA in a small community in Massachusetts. The drinking water in Wilmington, also home to the Olin Chemical plant, now listed as a Superfund Site, was found to be contaminated with NDMA, which residents suspected was responsible for a significant increase in childhood cancers in the town. Although a causal association between in utero exposure to NDMA and cancer in children was eventually established by an epidemiological study of the exposed residents, it was supported by pivotal work by MIT scientists, confirming the role of alkyladenine DNA glycosylase (AAG) in resolving DNA damage induced by NDMA and identifying potentially susceptible populations with heritable AAG deficiencies, as well as developing new methods for the detection and bioremediation of NDMA in drinking water. This work by the MIT SRP is analogous to the core mission of EMGS, in that considerable scientific expertise was directed at better understanding the consequences of an environmental exposure on the genome and creating solutions for managing risk, and in the process, contributed to the improvement of the lives and wellbeing of affected residents. To learn more, visit https://superfund.mit.edu/.