New Grants Aim to Individualize Radiotherapy by Improving Patient Experiences and Outcomes
By Gita Suneja, MD, MS, ROI Research Committee Chair
The Radiation Oncology Institute is excited to announce new funding awards to four research teams who will be working to personalize radiation therapy for cancer patients. We received a record number of applications, highlighting the strong enthusiasm and ongoing work in this area of radiation oncology research. The following teams were selected for the ROI Personalized Radiation Therapy research awards.
Minimizing Cardiac Toxicity for Lung Cancer Patients Carmen Bergom, MD, PhD, and El-Sayed Ibrahim, PhD, and their team at the Medical College of Wisconsin will conduct a pilot study to determine whether cardiac MRI can be used to detect early, non-symptomatic damage to the heart in lung cancer patients treated with radiation therapy. They will measure associations between delivered cardiac dose and subclinical cardiac damage, as well as test whether biomarkers associated with cardiac dysfunction correlate with the damage to the heart. Eventually, this information could be used to prevent and manage the effects of radiation to the heart by personalizing treatment plans to minimize cardiac toxicity and improve long-term outcomes for lung cancer patients.
Enhancing Patient Experience and Reducing Anxiety Using Virtual and Augmented Reality Platforms David Byun, MD, and his team at New York University School of Medicine will take on a new project that will explore whether the application of virtual and augmented reality platforms during consultation visits could better increase patient knowledge about radiation therapy, reduce anxiety, and improve the quality of their overall treatment experience. Dr. Byun’s CurieUx (Curie User eXperience) mixed reality patient education software is designed to include a novel virtual reality 360° tour of simulation and treatment rooms for patients to explore, as well as interactive virtual disease-specific anatomy models to help physicians personalize their verbal explanation of each patient’s diagnosis and treatment. To measure the efficacy of the intervention, Dr. Byun and his team will conduct a feasibility study, followed by a prospective trial, to determine whether using the CurieUx platform would help reduce patient anxiety and improve their overall treatment experience.
Customizing Patient-Physician Communication Daniel Golden, MD, MHPE, and Ritu Arya, MD, at the University of Chicago are focused on improving communication between patients with cancer and their physicians by developing a personalized discussion guide that explains external beam radiotherapy in an easy-to-digest format. With the grant from the ROI, Dr. Golden, Dr. Arya and their partners at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology will build upon their existing collaboration to create three new guides in the “Communicating the External Beam Radiotherapy Experience” (CEBRE) series that are tailored for patients with breast, lung and prostate cancer. The guides will be written at the sixth-grade level and provide understandable information unique to the patient’s disease site and treatment process in a graphic narrative format. Patients, caregivers, medical and non-medical staff will be involved in the development of the site-specific CEBRE guides to ensure a human-centered design process with key stakeholder input.
Individualizing Radiation Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer Patients Adam Wolfe, MD, PhD, and Terence Williams, MD, PhD, at The Ohio State University have discovered a molecular signature made up of microRNAs that could predict which patients with pancreatic cancer are at high-risk for local-regional recurrence following surgery. One of these microRNAs shows promise to help identify the pancreatic cancer patients who might benefit most from radiation therapy. With the ROI grant, Dr. Wolfe and his team will validate whether the molecular signature can predict for local-regional recurrence in an independent dataset using samples from two other institutions. They will also use cell and mouse models to examine if microRNA-296 increases cell death following radiation. Together, these two aims will improve patient selection for radiotherapeutic management of pancreatic cancer.
The future of the field is bright! We look forward to sharing more about each of these projects with you this month in honor of May being National Cancer Research Month. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to get all of the latest news on these and other research projects in our portfolio.