Reducing Radiation Damage
Dr. Richard Blankenbecler
This talk describes the use of a modified treatment sequence, i.e., radiation dose, geometry, dwell time, etc., to mitigate some of the deleterious effects of cancer radiotherapy by utilizing natural cell repair processes. If bad side effects can be reduced, a more aggressive therapy can be put into place.
Cells contain many mechanisms that repair damage of various types. If the damage can not be repaired, cells will undergo apoptosis (cell death). Data will be reviewed that support the fact that a small dose of radiation will activate damage repair genes within a cell. Once the mechanisms are fully active, they will efficiently repair the severe damage from a much larger radiation dose. The data ranges from experiments on specific cell cultures using microarray (gene chip) techniques to experiments on complete organisms.
The suggested effect and treatment is consistent with the assumption that all radiation is harmful, no matter how small the dose. Nevertheless, the harm can be reduced. These mechanisms need to be further studied and characterized. In particular, their time dependence needs to be understood before the proposed treatment can be optimized. Under certain situations it is also possible that the deleterious effects of chemotherapy can be mitigated and the damage to radiation workers can be reduced.