Radiotherapy: developing a new treatment with fewer side effects
Last updated: 23/01/2012
What's this project about?
Radiotherapy is a vital part of cancer treatment and is given to around 4 in 10 cancer patients. It has helped cure many millions of people with cancer worldwide, but scientists and doctors believe it has a much greater potential.
The problem is that conventional radiotherapy is less effective in people whose cancer has already spread around the body and can also cause distressing side effects by damaging healthy cells as well as cancer cells.
To tackle this, Professor Tim Illidge at our Paterson Institute for Cancer Research in Manchester is developing and testing a special way of delivering radiotherapy called radioimmunotherapy (RIT), which targets radiation more precisely to cancer cells. This could lead to many more people being successfully treated, with fewer side effects.
Supporting this project
Anonymous donatedThere is a better way for a... There is a better way for all, and I know you will find it. more
Anonymous donatedLast year my son had intens... Last year my son had intensive radiotherapy on a cancer at the base of his tongue. The treatment was drastic & debilitating.The result is positive. more
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Project update - July 2011
Professor Tim Illidge recently got in contact to provide an update on how this project is progressing:
We have recently finished two clinical trials and the early results appear to be very promising, although the full results will not be ready until December this year. This study will target tumours with a particular genetic make-up such as head and neck cancers, cervical and other cancers of the female reproductive system. We’re also now contributing to another trial, which has already started, looking at people with a type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma.
This study will also look at using targeted radiotherapy drugs as part of treatment for people whose disease has come back. The hope is that the targeted radiation will improve the chances of successful treatment. We want to be able to continue our work that targets radiation directly at cancer cells as we hope this will not only improve the success of treatment, but also quality of life for people with cancer.
What is the science behind this project?
Conventional radiotherapy is delivered to patients in the form of x-rays directed at the cancer from a machine outside the body. The treatment is very effective at treating some cancers, but the dose that can be given is limited by the need to avoid too much damage to healthy cells. It is also less successful at treating patients whose cancer has already spread to different sites in the body.
Professor Tim Illidge, one of the UK's top radiotherapy researchers, is developing a new treatment called radioimmunotherapy (RIT).
This involves attaching tiny radioactive particles to antibodies and using these to deliver the radiation through the patient's bloodstream directly to the cancer cells, wherever they are in the body. As the treatment specifically targets cancer cells, there should also be less damage to healthy cells and therefore fewer side effects.
Working at The Paterson Institute, Professor Illidge is right next door to renowned cancer hospital, The Christie. This unique position enables him to see the way his patients respond to different treatments and take these learnings straight back into the lab.
The excellent results from an early clinical trial testing RIT in people with an advanced form of lymphoma encouraged Professor Illidge to investigate this promising treatment further. Now he hopes to develop RIT so that it is effective in more people, and for more types of cancer.
The difference you can make
This exciting research has the potential to revolutionise conventional radiotherapy, making treatment more effective and reducing side effects for cancer patients. You can be part of this pioneering work and help realise the true life-saving potential of radiotherapy.
Please help us raise £50,000 to support running costs of one year of Professor Illidge's research.
The TumbleUp4Life bike ride is returning to Wales in May 2012. The last event took place in May 2011 and raised over £8,500 to help fund research into improving radiotherapy treatments for cancer patients.
Participants take on the challenge of cycling up the Tumble as many times as they can in a day. The climb starts in Llanfoist at 54m altitude and the summit is reached after 6km, at the altitude of 512m. Cycling the Tumble 15 times adds up to 6,870m in height. That is more than climbing the Alpe d’Huez 6 times! Cycling doesn’t get any tougher than this.
Participants can also walk or run the distance, using the same route as the cyclists.
For more information or to register to take part, please visit the TumbleUp4Life website.
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