News | Radiation Therapy | December 23, 2016

Scientists Investigate Cancer Radiotherapy to Make Improvements

A University of Rochester Medical Center study shows that when tumors are treated with radiotherapy, the benefits can be hijacked by the treatment's counteraction to trigger inflammation and dampen the body's immune response.

Published by the journal Oncotarget, the study suggests that radiotherapy (also known as radiation treatment) could be more effective if it was combined with a drug that would block a specific cell that is responsible for dulling the immune system. In mice, the research team experimented by delivering an immunotherapy two days prior to radiotherapy and saw significant benefits for many different types of cancer.

Led by Scott A. Gerber, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgery, and graduate student Kelli A. Connolly, the research fills an important gap in knowledge. Scientists already know that radiotherapy stimulates anti-tumor cells and helps to control cancer's growth. What is less understood is why radiotherapy cannot cure cancer.

The answer may lie with how the immune system responds to radiotherapy when a tumor is present. The URMC and Wilmot Cancer Institute scientists discovered that radiation increases the circulation of certain harmful inflammatory cells and changes the way the immune system rallies against cancer. In many patients, the circulating level of these cells (called monocytes) is already high prior to cancer treatment and sometimes indicates a poor prognosis.

Gerber believes that the abundance of these cells, which can be measured in a simple blood test, could identify patients who might benefit most from blocking them, allowing the immune system to fight the disease in combination with radiotherapy. Because these inflammatory cells express a unique protein on their surface, they are an easy target for medications, the study said. "Our observations of what happens during radiotherapy when cells are recruited to the tumor site and surrounding tissue has intriguing implications for how to improve treatment," said Gerber, who also has an appointment in the URMC Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

For more information: www.urmc.rochester.edu

Related Content

Amar Kishan, M.D.

Amar Kishan, M.D.

News | Prostate Cancer | September 11, 2018
UCLA researchers have discovered that a combination of high doses of...
Videos | Radiation Therapy | September 07, 2018
A discussion with Ehsan Samei, Ph.D., DABR, FAAPM, FSPIE, director of the Duke University Clinical Imaging Physics Gr
Boston Scientific to Acquire Augmenix Inc.
News | Patient Positioning Radiation Therapy | September 07, 2018
Boston Scientific has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Augmenix Inc., a privately-held company which has...
Non-Canonical Strategy May Improve Cancer Radiotherapy
News | Radiation Therapy | August 29, 2018
August 29, 2018 — Although the success or failure of...
Videos | Treatment Planning | August 28, 2018
A discussion with...
Sponsored Content | Webinar | Radiation Therapy | August 28, 2018
Respiratory tumor motion often complicates the delivery of precision radiation treatment.
Tsuyama Chuo Proton Beam Center Treats First Patients With RayStation
News | Treatment Planning | August 27, 2018
Tsuyama Chuo Hospital in Okayama Prefecture, southwest Japan, has commenced clinical use of RayStation to plan pencil...
Radiation Therapy Affects Event Recall for Children With Brain Tumors
News | Radiation Therapy | August 24, 2018
Children with certain types of brain tumors who undergo radiation treatment are less likely to recall the specifics of...
Videos | Radiation Therapy | August 13, 2018
ITN Editor Dave Fornell takes a tour of some of the innovative new technologies on the expo floor at the 2018 America
Videos | Radiation Therapy | August 13, 2018
A discussion with Mahadevappa Mahesh, MS, Ph.D., FAAPM, FACR, FACMP, FSCCT, professor of radiology and cardiology and