Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 4 – 2008

Billy Loo, Radiation Oncology
Edward Graves, Radiation Oncology
Theo Palmer, Neurosurgery

Radiation therapy is one of the core treatments for most cancers. One of the main barriers to curative radiation therapy is the risk of long-term injury of normal organs exposed to the radiation. A mechanism of this injury is chronic inflammation that is a reaction to the radiation. It has been shown that in rodents that receive radiation to the brain, chronic inflammation inhibits formation of new nerve cells in the hippocampus, leading to learning disabilities. The goal of this project is to develop a non-invasive method to image inflammation after radiation, and measure the inflammatory response as well as its change with anti-inflammatory therapies. As a first step, we have validated a method of PET imaging of inflammation in stroke, a condition that produces intense neuroinflammation, and are now prepared to apply this to image radiation induced neuroinflammation. This collaboration between researchers in Radiation Oncology, Radiology, Neurosurgery, and Pediatrics demonstrates how expertise in a diverse range of specialties combines to study important problems in a way that would not be possible otherwise.