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OHSU Cancer Institute researcher: radiation, immunotherapy gives greater effectiveness

PORTLAND, Ore. Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute researchers have found the right formula of radiation and immunotherapy for fighting lung cancer tumors in mice, which they hope will translate to better treatment in human lung cancers.

The study was presented today at the 50th annual American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology conference in Boston.

Principal investigator Marka Crittenden, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues designed the study in order to look at the effects of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) on the immune system. This type of radiation is delivered in three large doses over several days. The extreme precision of this technology helps to spare normal, healthy tissue, more accurately targeting the cancerous tumor.

"We studied the consequences of SBRT radiation doses in preclinical tumors and found that there were fewer of the cells that turn off the immune system and more of the good 'killer' immune cells following these radiation doses," said Crittenden, OHSU Department of Radiation Medicine, OHSU School of Medicine.

Researchers then selected a form of immunotherapy that could boost the immune response while working with the immune response generated by the SBRT. Cancer immunotherapy works to boost the body's own immune system to attack tumor cells. They found that SBRT combined with immunotherapy was much more effective at clearing the tumor than either used alone.

"We hope to translate this to patient studies and develop therapies combining the potent tumor destruction of SBRT with the patient's own immune system to further improve the efficacy of radiation therapy for cancer," Crittenden said.

The presentation is titled: "Development of a Preclinical Model to Test Adjuvant Immunotherapy in Combination With SBRT."


Contact: Christine Decker
Oregon Health & Science University

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