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Institute’s Seminar

Wednesday, 11/30/2022, 02:00 PM
Seminar room HI-Jena, Fröbelstieg 3

Innovative Cancer Therapies Using Charged Particle Irradiation

Claudia Fournier
GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung

Ionizing radiation is a frequently used tool in life sciences to understand universal concepts of life. Examples are the application in structural biology exploring molecular structures of biomolecules and their interactions, or in imaging to study evolutionary relationships among groups of organisms and biodiversity. The objective of radiobiology is the investigation and understanding of the response and the interaction of organisms, tissue and cells upon exposure to irradiation. The acquired knowledge may provide a basis for translational research to improve cancer radiotherapy and radiation protection.

The physical characteristics of radiation qualities, i.e. photons (X- or γ -rays) and charged particles are different leading to distinct biological effects. For radiotherapy, charged particles, i.e. protons and carbon ions, provide physical characteristics allowing for a volume conformal irradiation of tumors and a reduction of the integral dose to normal tissue. Moreover, carbon ions bear an additional advantage due to their enhanced biological effectiveness, resulting in peculiar molecular effects. For multiple tumor entities, this offers a significant benefit compared to conventional radiotherapy.

However, not all patients benefit from charged particle therapy. This drives innovative approaches that are under investigation to exploit specific spatial and temporal features of charged particle exposure. The presentation will report on ongoing research to maintain tumor control while reducing toxicity to the tumor-surrounding tissue by delivering ultra-high dose rates of radiation (FLASH radiotherapy). In addition, the potential for treatments using charged particles to control the primary tumor combined with immunotherapy to achieve a better control of distant metastasis will be discussed.