Paving the Way to Treat Lung Cancer with FLASH RT
Michael Goldstein, MD, PhD, and his team at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are conducting research on FLASH radiotherapy (RT), a cutting-edge technology that has opened new avenues for improving cancer care. “FLASH radiotherapy is a novel treatment modality that delivers radiation in an ultra-fast manner. It spares normal organs while effectively targeting cancer cells allowing for a safe dose escalation for treatment of aggressive tumors like lung cancer. We are investigating clinically feasible dose-escalated radiation regimens using FLASH RT that can benefit patients with locally-advanced lung cancer,” says Dr. Goldstein.
Much more needs to be known about how to safely and effectively deliver FLASH RT to patients. Most FLASH RT studies to date have used a single high dose of radiation, whereas conventional RT that is used in clinic for treatment of patients with lung cancer is fractionated and administered in many small doses over multiple weeks. With support from ROI, Dr. Goldstein is leading preclinical research on fractionated FLASH RT for lung cancer that will help establish whether the treatment regimens will be safe and effective to test in patients in the future. His team has developed a highly innovative platform to investigate FLASH RT and with it they are:
- Comparing FLASH RT and conventional dose-rate RT for lung cancer to understand how these regimens affect heart and lung toxicity.
- Establishing a framework to increase the dose delivered by FLASH RT without a significant increase in heart and lung toxicity.
- Analyzing how well standard and dose-escalated FLASH RT treatment regimens control lung cancer tumor growth.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and radiotherapy is a critical component of treatment for many patients. New radiation approaches that allow for a significant dose escalation without an increase in treatment related side effects would transform care and considerably improve outcomes for patients with lung cancer. Additionally, most patients with cancer receive radiation in multiple small doses, so fractionated regimens for FLASH RT would be relevant to treating many types of tumors. Dr. Goldstein’s research is an important step forward in generating the evidence to fulfill the promise of FLASH RT to improve the lives of patients with aggressive and treatment resistant cancers such as lung cancer.