Christina Haston is an associate professor of medical physics at UBC’s Okanagan campus. - Credit: UBCO

UBC study could spare cancer patients from side effects of radiation

Her research has drawn a connection of Chromosome 6 genes to pulmonary fibrosis susceptibility.

A UBC Okanagan researcher has determined that genes on a specific chromosome may be the answer as to why thoracic radiotherapy leads to a lung injury in some lung cancer patients.

Christina Haston, an associate professor of medical physics, recently published a study examining how Chromosome 6 can contribute to radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis. Her study finds that genetic differences can determine whether or not this lung injury follows radiotherapy in an experimental system, according to UBCO in a news release.

“Currently, 50 per cent of cancer patients in Canada receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment course,” she said. “In addition to effects on the tumour, up to 30 per cent of these patients develop side effects to this treatment, or injuries to non-tumour tissue.”

RELATED: UBC Okanagan study evaluates virtual educational care

Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive disease related to damaged lung tissue, making it difficult for patients to breathe and process oxygen effectively. Some lung cancer patients have developed pulmonary fibrosis after radiation, while patients with other cancers have developed it after receiving a specific cancer medication called Bleomycin.

“One of the limiting side effects of thoracic radiotherapy is the development of pulmonary fibrosis in a susceptible subpopulation of treated patients,” said Haston. “However, the specific pathways contributing to fibrosis susceptibility in radiotherapy patients remain unidentified.”

It has been thought that white blood cells, the body’s natural defence mechanism, may contribute to pulmonary fibrosis. Building on this, her research has drawn a connection of Chromosome 6 genes to fibrosis susceptibility, the release said.

She examined the susceptibility to pulmonary fibrosis on lab mice after radiation therapy and on mice after treatment of Bleomycin. The mice with a replaced Chromosome 6 were protected from both radiation-induced and Bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis.

RELATED: Globe trotting biology student to study at UBCO

“The recent findings by our lab have specifically identified these genetic differences to reside in Chromosome 6,” she added, explaining that her work may open the door to individualized cancer treatments, depending on a person’s specific genetic makeup.

Her study, published in Radiation Research, was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“This research aims to develop a pre-treatment marker based on knowledge of specific genes of radiation injury response,” she said. “Such a marker could significantly affect Canadians with cancer, by sparing side effects and increasing the dose to the tumour which may, in turn, increase cure rates.”


edit@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

ARTS AROUND: Renew your Community Arts Council membership

Port Alberni gallery showcases two different painters

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

EDITORIAL: Housing prices, balanced market a sign of confidence for Port Alberni

Port Alberni’s real estate market has quietly been breaking some records…

Alberni wrestlers start the new year on the right foot

Alberni wrestlers compete at Wild Cat Wrestling Tournament and Duke’s Cup Dual

BIZ BEAT: Port Alberni pet stores going to the dogs

Animal Ark and Bosley’s add dog washing stations

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

Chiasson nets shootout winner as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2

Edmonton moves one point ahead of Vancouver

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Thieves steal thousands from 140 Coast Capital Savings members

Online fraud tactics included phising and ‘brute force’ in November and December

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Most Read