Study Suggests Why Radiation Therapy Can Lose Potency In Cancer Patients

Published: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 5:15am
Updated: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 9:56am
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Radiation therapy is used to treat more than half of all cancer patients, but it's not without its drawbacks. A new study published in the journal Nature Genetics suggests ways to make the treatment more effective.

Radiation therapy works by killing tumor cells or damaging their DNA and ability to replicate. But the new study finds cellular repair mechanisms can cause mutations that render tumors more resilient against future treatments.

"Glioblastoma or glioma is still an incredibly deadly cancer and so are many other cancers that are treated by radiotherapy. We're all hoping that perhaps this research can translate into something meaningful for the patient," said senior author Dr. Floris Barthel, a postdoctoral fellow at the nonprofit Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut.  

The team also found a biomarker that could help doctors gauge when a patient has had enough radiation. 

Slowing the tumors' repair processes also could improve patient health and survival.

"There are actually compounds already that could potentially inhibit this. So what we need to do is start looking into clinical trials," said Barthel, who was recently hired by the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix as an assistant professor specializing in brain tumors.

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