Development and evaluation of new approaches to cancer treatment

author: Gregor Serša, Institute of Oncology Ljubljana
produced by: S.TV.A.d.o.o.
published: Sept. 23, 2011,   recorded: September 2011,   views: 3038

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We are facing quick developments in cancer treatment. In the last decade, a vast amount of knowledge has been accumulated on the initiation and promotion of cancer cells as well as on how cancer cells control their environment and what are the interactions between the host and the tumor. This basic knowledge about cancer cells enables us to treat cancer. Without the knowledge about specific properties of cancer cells it would not be possible to develop new treatments because effectiveness of treatment rests on subtle differences between normal and cancer cells.
In order to introduce new treatments into every day clinical practice, we need a swift translation of knowledge from basic sciences into clinics. However, before clinical testing, it is mandatory to develop and evaluate new treatments in experimental oncology, whose main goals are to develop, either on cells in vitro and tumors in vivo on experimental animals, new treatments, discover their mechanisms of action, evaluate their effectiveness, and verify whether they are suitable for treating cancer patients with cancer.
Our research program can be divided into several fields of interest that are interrelated in many aspects. Electroporation is a physical method for delivering molecules into cells. It is also applied to deliver chemotherapeutics - electrochemotherapy, or naked DNA - electrogenetherapy. The aims of our research program are to apply electrochemotherapy in the treatment of cancer patients with cutaneous and subcutaneous tumors and to optimize electrogenetherapy to enter the first clinical trials. The effectiveness of radiation therapy can be potentiated by radiosensibilization, either with radiosensitizing drugs or gene therapy. Therefore, another goal is to search for some applications of electrochemotherapy and electrogenetherapy in combination with radiation therapy. Furthermore, we will apply some new radiation techniques, like three dimensional conformal radiation and intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), and stereotactic radiosurgery. We will try to test their efficacy from physical and biological aspects. The knowledge about physiological parameters of the tumors is important for the prediction and for follow-up of the new treatments. Different techniques of tumor blood flow and oxygenation will be performed after the treatment with standard and newly developed approaches. Immunohistochemical staining enables the detection of specific molecules in the cells that are essential for the knowledge about biological behaviour of cancer cells. Nowadays, COX-2 and its inhibitors are very hot topics that will also be investigated in our research program.
This research program is complex, it is multidisciplinary and enables translational research in the described specific fields from preclinical testing into clinical practice.

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