OHSU Cancer Institute researcher: radiation, immunotherapy gives greater effectiveness

September 25, 2008

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."
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About the OHSU Cancer Institute

The OHSU Cancer Institute is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center between Sacramento and Seattle. It comprises some 200 clinical researchers, basic scientists and population scientists who work together to translate scientific discoveries into longer and better lives for Oregon's cancer patients. In the lab, basic scientists examine cancer cells and normal cells to uncover molecular abnormalities that cause the disease. This basic science informs more than 300 clinical trials conducted at the OHSU Cancer Institute.

About OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only health and research university, and Oregon's only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), with 12,400 employees. OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.

Oregon Health & Science University

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