Shane Harding, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Project Title: “Radiotherapy-induced brain toxicity: A mechanistic basis and therapeutic opportunity”
Many brain cancers are tragic diagnoses with poor survival rates even with aggressive surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Side-effects from these treatments can have profound effects on patient quality of life. We have recently identified a molecular pathway that is activated by radiotherapy to cause inflammatory signalling. These signals trigger the immune system and enhance an exciting new treatment called immunotherapy. Importantly, these same signals are also present in patients with specific genetic conditions that lead to neurological deficits. This suggests that carefully balancing the signals produced by radiation is important maximize tumour cure and minimize toxicity.
In this project we will test our prediction that the inflammatory signals caused by radiotherapy damage the brain and lead to associated side-effects. We have 2 major goals: (1) identify new ways to track or predict toxicity during brain radiotherapy so we can better control their development and (2) to determine if a new class of drugs targeting the molecular pathways activated by radiotherapy can prevent side-effects. Together this proposal seeks to find new ways to improve brain cancer treatment and patient quality of life.
What receiving this award means to Shane:
“This support from Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is instrumental in furthering our goal of improving radiotherapy in brain tumour patients by enhancing therapy response and minimizing toxicity.”