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

UBCO professor’s study could spare cancer patients from radiation’s side effects

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dust advisory in effect for Vernon

Keep strenuous exercise away from busy streets, intersections

Vernon reporter’s roots linked to Montreal school fire that killed 17

Vernon and District Family History Society runs open house during Heritage Week

Fire safety talk coming to Vernon

Fire Rescue Services to host one-hour presentation in Okanagan Landing, open to everyone

Vernon library to launch tech lab

$74K donation brings Vernon library closer to Inspiration Lab opening

Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre makes a splash with Girl in the Goldfish Bowl

Performance packed full of surprises, director Cara Nunn says

Budget 2020: ICBC ‘dumpster fire’ to turn into $86M surplus, NDP say

ICBC operating with $91-million deficit for 2019-2020 fiscal year

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Town of Osoyoos voices support for proposed casino

Osoyoos council voted to submit a letter of support for a proposed casino on OIB land

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Nanaimo man wins lotto, plans to buy $16,000 fridge

Curtis Wright a winner in Lotto 6/49 draw

Three protesters arrested after blocking driveway at premier’s home

Protestors claimed they would make a citizen’s arrest of the Premier, according to West Shore RCMP

Community mourns Revelstoke snowmobiler death

Alexandre Labonté was an avid sledder and mountain biker

City of Kelowna signs UNHCR statement of solidarity with refugees

The #WithRefugees campaign invites cities working to promote inclusion and support refugees

Budget 2020: B.C. adds tax to sweet drinks and sodas

All soda, vending machine drinks will be subject to higher PST

Most Read