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Improving radiotherapy success in oesophageal cancer

  • Researcher: Dr Ludwig Dubois
  • Institution: Maastricht University, Netherlands
  • Award Amount: £199,158 for 3 years from February 2015
  • Cancer Type: Oesophageal Cancer
Improving radiotherapy success in oesophageal cancer
Dr Ludwig Dubois and his team are trying to improve treatment success rates for oesophageal cancer (cancer of the food pipe).Around 20 people in the UK every day are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer* and although it is treatable, it is hard to cure using the current treatment options. “One of the important characteristics of oesophageal cancer is that the tumours often have regions of low oxygen concentration,” says Dr Dubois. “We think we can exploit this by designing new drugs which specifically target these regions.” Dr Dubois is particularly interested in one such drug, called TH-302, which has been shown to kill cancer cells within these regions of low oxygen, and help improve the overall success of chemotherapy treatments. He thinks TH-302 might also enhance the success of radiotherapy, a standard treatment for oesophageal cancer. Radiotherapy is known to be less effective in tumour areas with low oxygen. To investigate this idea, Dr Dubois is using samples from mice and patients with oesophageal tumours. “We really believe that this combination treatment could enhance the chance of curing oesophageal cancer,” says Dr Dubois. “But if this is true, we also need to see if the combination of TH-302 with radiotherapy is safe for healthy tissues such as the lung and the oesophagus. Finally, we want to investigate if imaging these low oxygen tumour regions before therapy might also help us predict treatment effectiveness.” * Latest statistics from Cancer Research UK
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