Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy

Dr Kelly McKelvey, Assoc. Prof. Viive Howell.

Radiation is a mainstay of cancer treatment. Over the last 20 years radiation delivery has improved leading to higher radiation doses, improved tumour control and markedly reduced side effects. Yet, greater understanding of radiobiology is required, particularly in the era of immunotherapies. How radiation initiates, maintains, or ceases an inflammatory or immune response is critical to improving global cancer survivorship.

Our laboratory has access to the only Pre-clinical Irradiator on the eastern seaboard of Australia (SAARP, Xstrahl – link to Sydney Vital Page). This miniaturised X-ray linear accelerator replicates the clinical system both in its image-guidance, radiation delivery, accuracy, and treatment planning system. Combined with our various preclinical models of cancer, including brain, lung, colorectal, ovarian, pancreatic and mesothelioma, we have the ability to examine the response of cancer to radiation alone, or in combination therapy with emerging therapeutics.

This research is supported by the Sydney Neuro-Oncology Group, Sydney Vital Translational Research Centre, and the Mark Hughes Foundation, Hunter Medical Research Institute.

 1. Exploring methods to improve efficacy of immunotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

Dr Malmaruha Arasaratnam, Dr Kelly McKelvey, Dr Sarah Hayes, A/Prof Viive Howell and A/Prof Nick Pavlakis

Our research project is exploring methods to improve effectiveness of immune therapy in lung cancer. We will be looking to identify if there are proteins secreted in blood that can predict which patients respond well to therapy and which do not. In patients that are unlikely to respond, alternative treatment options can be explored. There is increasing evidence of benefit in combining radiotherapy and immunotherapy, in what is referred to as the ‘abscopal effect’. We will be exploring whether mice that have lung cancer can derive greater benefit of combining radiotherapy and immunotherapy more than giving each therapy individually.

Funding: Sydney Vital Postgraduate Scholarship in Immunotherapy and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

2. Exploring a novel nanotechnology strategy for the neo-adjuvant treatment of colorectal cancer by photodynamic therapy and ionising radiation.

Dr Wei Deng, A/Prof Viive Howell, A/Prof Ewa Goldys, Prof Alexander Engel

By combining two clinically accepts therapies, photodynamic therapy and ionising radiation we plan to develop a novel treatment strategy for colorectal cancer. This project will produce gold-labelled nanoparticles for enhance photodynamic therapy in deep tissue in a xenograft in vivo model. Once approved for human therapy this may reduce the radiation-induced mortality and/or increase treatment efficacy.

Funding: Ramsay Research and Teaching Award

3. Laying the foundation for improved monitoring and treatment for IDH-mutated gliomas

Angela Cho, Dr Amanda Hudson, A/ Prof Viive Howell, Prof Helen Wheeler

The aim of this project is to determine whether radiation resistance in human glioma cell lines is associated with high CA9 levels and whether inhibition or knockdown of CA9 can resensitise glioma cells to radiation. If sensitivity to radiotherapy is enhanced or resensitisation is observed, CA9 may be a potential therapeutic target for glioblastoma.

Funding: Mark Hughes Foundation

4. Towards a Personalised Theranostics Platform through an Improved Understanding of the Biological Effects of Radionuclide Therapy.

Takanori Hioki, HyunJu Ryu, Dr Yaser Gholami, Prof Dale Bailey

This research compares the radiobiological effects of lutetium-177 on human prostate cancer cell lines, with the total dose and dose rate of external beam radiotherapy. Through the establishment of a platform for the highest efficacies of using radionuclide therapy on prostate cancer, it aims to build cellular level justification that will change the way treatment planning is personalised for individuals. Specifically, X-ray radiation will be used to irradiate prostate cancer cell lines, to compare DNA damage to that obtained with alpha-particle radiation (Lu177).

Funding: Siemens Research Collaboration