01/10/2011 - 30/04/2015


ARIMMORA – Advanced Research on Interaction Mechanisms of electroMagnetic Exposures with Organisms for Risk Assessment

The FP7 project ARIMMORA has officially begun on October 1, 2011, with an expected duration of 3 years.

The Challenge

The extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) associated with electric power were classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans based on reasonably consistent epidemiological data on childhood leukaemia. However, laboratory studies in animals and cells provide only weak support for a causal relationship between sub-millitesla-level ELF-MF and malignant diseases while biophysical studies do not support such a relationship. The ARIMMORA project will use advanced, highly sensitive tools in comprehensive studies designed to detect interaction mechanisms for ELF-MF effects on organisms, or, alternatively, show their absence.

Project Objectives

The proposed project aims to examine relevant biophysical mechanisms for a possible causal relationship between ELF-MF exposure and cancer, especially childhood leukaemia. One project element will develop and apply novel experimental and computational techniques to close knowledge gaps in ELF-MF exposure assessment, especially levels and temporal patterns of exposure for European children. The second will test likely interaction mechanisms using advanced in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo biological models under well-defined exposure conditions.


ARIMMORA will investigate the possible impact of ELF-MF exposure on four processes: 1) Epigenetic dynamics associated with hematopoietic cell lineage commitment and differentiation; epigenetic signatures will be monitored genome-wide, and mechanisms underlying eventual “misprogramming” will be addressed in gene promoter models; 2) Alteration of signalling processes in cells; 3) Induction of possible cytotoxic effects on CD8-positive T-cells; 4) Genesis or evolution of childhood leukaemia in advanced genetically modified animal models. Advanced biophysical simulations with efficient numerical solvers will be combined with tissue and cellular models to support the bio-experiments. The final project phase will create a risk assessment based on the outcomes of project studies and recent studies from other research groups by adapting and applying procedures outlined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans.

Expected Results

Children are exposed to variable levels of ELF-MF during their daily activities. By improving our understanding of this variation and its temporal pattern, ARIMMORA will close the knowledge gaps currently impeding the safe assessment of ELF-MF-associated risks of childhood leukaemia. Comprehensive biological investigations will be used to detect possible interaction mechanisms at cellular and sub-cellular levels. If a mechanism is established at microtesla levels, ARIMMORA will strongly advance understanding of biological effects of ELF-MF and support the plausibility of an adverse effect—childhood leukaemia—for exposures well below current protection levels. In that case, precautionary measures to reduce leukaemia risks could be devised based on quantitative risk models for ELF-MF exposure. It is also likely that an identified mechanism for ELF-MF would give further insight into the aetiology and cellular progression of childhood leukaemia in general, opening the door to its prevention and treatment.

Project Partners

Foundation for Research on Information Technologies in Society Switzerland
University of Basel, Department of Biomedicine Switzerland
Weizmann Institute of Science Israel
Fraunhofer-Institute of Toxicology and Experimental Medicine, Division Toxicology and Environmental Hygiene Germany
University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation Germany
Schmid & Partner Engineering AG Switzerland
Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científícas Spain
International Agency for Research on Cancer France
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Ingegneris Biomedica Italy