Radiotherapy and radiation biology

Valérie Devillaine
04/21/2017
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The Orsay site will focus on Marie Curie’s most important legacy: radiotherapy. It will further knowledge on radiation biology and work on innovation in radiotherapy.
Marie Dutreix

With its 200 researchers and an internationally-renowned Proton Therapy Center that has administered over 10,000 treatment sessions, the Orsay site is a world-class facility for radiation biology and radiotherapy. It will be working on three projects in conjunction with radiotherapy and the biological effects of ionizing radiation.

 

Radiotherapy - new treatment methods

Flash radiation, which delivers high doses in very short periods of time, makes the rays more effective on tumor cells while minimizing side effects on healthy cells. This type of approach requires a technological breakthrough, since conventional radiotherapy devices (?) do not deliver such high doses. This is why the Pencil Beam Scanning system, which is capable of this level of performance, has been installed at the Proton Therapy Center to conduct preclinical studies.

A second feature of this program will involve new therapeutic agents to heighten the effects of the rays, like the Dbaits discovered at Institut Curie, which prevent the tumor cells from repairing damage caused to their DNA by ionizing radiation. Other molecules of this type will no doubt also be discovered. An X-ray generator will enable these potential radio-sensitizers to be tested.

 

Radio-toxicity, radio-resistance and pediatric cancers

This second research project aims to develop radiotherapy techniques for children while reducing side effects to a minimum. Their developing brain is sometimes too sensitive to receive classic radiotherapy. Because of its toxicity, all the more marked if the child is young at the time of treatment, radiotherapy is ruled out for infants and rarely prescribed for children under age three. Furthermore, some very aggressive pediatric brain tumors recur after radiotherapy treatment.

Researchers will study the potential benefits of flash radiation for children with brain tumors.

 

Photo-sensitization and retinoblastoma

In industrialized countries, the majority of patients suffering from retinoblastoma, a tumor affecting young children, are cured. One of the goals is therefore to reduce the after-effects of treatment. Within this context, photo-sensitization seems to be a promising option. This strategy involves injecting photosensitive molecules, known as photosensitizers, and then activating them using visible light. The molecule that will destroy the tumor cells is active only once it is exposed to a specific wavelength. This treatment is not a mutagen, which is an important factor for young patients suffering from retinoblastoma.