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Radiation therapy is a mainstay of cancer treatment, causing DNA damage that targets rapidly proliferating cancer cells. Unfortunately, noncancerous cells with rapid turnover rates are destroyed as well; this adversely affects the irradiated area, and in particular, the hematopoietic system and gastrointestinal tract. The manner in which most tissues respond to radiation therapy with regard to tissue degeneration, regeneration potential, and cell loss is well understood. The onset and severity of radiation damage in a tissue is dependent on the ability of its stem cells to continue differentiating into functional cells. Stem cells have the capacity to self-renew and also produce more differentiated cells, a feat accomplished by undergoing an asymmetric cell division in which one of two daughter cells remains a stem cell. The ...

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