• Radiologic Technology News

Study Offers Insights Into Radiation Therapy

Mar 29, 2016

A new study published in Nature Communications may offer a better understanding of the genetics behind radiation response and what makes radiation therapy work. Researchers concentrated on microRNAs, a type of molecule newly discovered in humans.

The study found that one type of microRNA, called miR-34, can sit in an inactive state waiting for a signal to turn it on. The discovery upends the notion that microRNA is already activated and ready to work. 

“We found that irradiating the cells, or treating them with radiation, which causes DNA damage, ‘turns on’ the miR-34 that is sitting and waiting,” said lead researcher Joanne Weidhaas, M.D., Ph.D., in a news release. "These findings have the potential to allow us to harness this mechanism to better treat patients with radiation, targeting tumors but protecting normal tissues. Or, we may in fact find that there are differences in how well this mechanism works in some people versus others, explaining why some are more radiosensitive or radioresistant from the start."

The research team is also working to help identify patient populations that are more likely to respond better to radiation therapy. 

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