For a long time, the treatment for cancer has been to treat cancer without worsening the side effects. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland may have found this treatment.
Charles Limoli, Professor of Radiation Oncology at UCI and Marie-Catherine Vozenin, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Swiss Facility, used ultra-high-dose rate radiation therapy to eliminate brain tumors in mice, thereby bypassing the main side effects of skull irradiation, which are usually caused by the following reasons.Their findings are published in Clinical cancer research.
Limoli said: “It can be expected that within 10 years, this may become a wide choice for radiotherapy patients worldwide.”
Traditional radiotherapy exposes the tumor and nearby normal tissues for several minutes at a time, but Flash radiotherapy (Flash-RT) allows the same dose to be delivered in tenths of a second. This speed eliminates many of the toxicities that usually plague cancer survivors long after radiotherapy, thereby greatly reducing side effects such as inflammation and cognitive impairment.
As with traditional radiation therapy, researchers divide the dose into parts-dividing the total dose into several courses. Using Flash-RT, they found that the same total amount of radiation provided at a faster dose rate is as effective as traditional methods in removing brain tumors.
Vozenin, UCI Adjunct Professor and Principal Investigator, said: “This is very important because classification is a clinical standard and the easiest way to transfer Flash-RT clinically.”
Although this work is focused on the brain, Flash-RT has also been used to treat lung cancer, skin cancer and intestinal cancer, while still preventing many radiation-induced complications. These additional studies have been successful in several animals including fish, mice, pigs, cats and a human subject.
Limoli said: “It seems that this treatment will generally benefit most cancers.”
Today, researchers have verified whether this method is effective, and researchers around the world are developing machines that can use Flash technology in clinics. A device is awaiting approval in the United States and Europe, and Vozenin plans to use it in two clinical trials at Lausanne University Hospital early next year.
At the same time, she and Limoli are studying the mechanism behind the beneficial effects of Flash-RT to better understand how the technology works.
Rimoli said: “In the past 30 or 40 years, nothing has been more exciting in the field of radiation science.”
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