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Samples of vital human tumor tissue irradiated with ions for the first time

Date:
December 21, 2010
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
Scientists have for the first time irradiated samples of vital human tumor tissue in the scope of their systematical and fundamental research. Their long-term goal is to enhance the already highly effective ion beam therapy in a way that allows the optimization of the irradiation dose based on the specific tumor of the individual patient. Such a treatment would constitute a novel approach, as radiation treatment so far only considered the type and position of the tumor.

Tissue section of a human tumor sliced from a tissue culture. The tissue was cut in special process into thin slices and then stained with various dyes. (Green: growing cells, blue: nuclei)
Credit: Copyright: Institute of Anatomy University of Leipzig, F. Merz

Cancer treatment with ion beams developed at GSI is characterized by an excellent cure rate and only minor side effects. The therapy has been routinely in use for a little over one year. The effectiveness of the ion beams not only depends on the tumor type, but also on the genetic disposition and the personal circumstances of the individual patient.

For the first time, scientists at GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung have irradiated samples of vital human tumor tissue in the scope of their systematical and fundamental research. Their long-term goal is to enhance the already highly effective ion beam therapy in a way that allows the optimization of the irradiation dose based on the specific tumor of the individual patient. Such a treatment would constitute a novel approach, as radiation treatment so far only considered the type and position of the tumor.

This research is only possible because the University of Frankfurt was able to produce samples of specific human tumors for the first time. The patient-derived tumor tissue is prepared in a way that keeps the tissue sample vital for several weeks. The fact that these samples are consistent with their natural environment allows the scientists to observe the effects of the radiation that occur in the treatment of patients. One of the points the researchers are examining is the so-called "bystander effect" -- the effect that the irradiated cells have on their neighboring cells. Previous tests on artificial cell samples and animal experiments were very limited in this respect.

This cancer therapy developed at GSI has already proven highly effective, with very few side effects. "However, every tumor reacts differently to irradiation: some are more sensitive, stop growing or perish, others are more resistant and remain unaffected by the therapy. The effectiveness of the therapy varies from patient to patient," says Professor Marco Durante, head of the biophysics department at GSI Helmholtzzentrum. "The irradiation and subsequent analysis of a tissue sample taken from the patient allows us to find out about the tumor's characteristics. And based on this knowledge, the attending physician can optimize the tumor therapy for the individual patient."

Human tissue samples are typically obtained during surgery. A new method now makes it possible to keep those tissue samples vital in the laboratory over several weeks. "These so-called tissue slice cultures are used as a model system for biological studies, because they allow us to look beyond the events that occur in a single cell and help us study the tumor cells in their natural environment surrounded by other cells," explains professor Ingo Bechmann, who helped develop this new system at Charité in Berlin and Frankfurt University and who now holds a professorship at Leipzig University. Dr. Kosta Schopow, the Frankfurt-based physician and curator of the Senckenberg Foundation, had the idea of using tissue slice cultures for the research at GSI.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. M. Müller, M. Durante, H. Stöcker, F. Merz, I. Bechmann. Modeling radiation effects at the tissue level. The European Physical Journal D, 2010; 60 (1): 171 DOI: 10.1140/epjd/e2010-00030-y
  2. Felicitas Merz, Mareike Müller, Gisela Taucher-Scholz, Franz Rödel, Horst Stöcker, Kosta Schopow, Laura Laprell, Faramarz Dehghani, Marco Durante, Ingo Bechmann. Tissue slice cultures from humans or rodents: a new tool to evaluate biological effects of heavy ions. Radiation and Environmental Biophysics, 2010; 49 (3): 457 DOI: 10.1007/s00411-010-0293-1

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Samples of vital human tumor tissue irradiated with ions for the first time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101217145655.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2010, December 21). Samples of vital human tumor tissue irradiated with ions for the first time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101217145655.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Samples of vital human tumor tissue irradiated with ions for the first time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101217145655.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

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