The vision of the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Medical Radiation Research for Radiation Oncology is the optimization of the treatment outcome of radiation oncology, alone or in combination with established chemotherapy or novel targeted strategies of drug treatment, with conventional photon or innovative ion-beams. The aim of this research project is to establish solid and benchmark strategies for a maximally effective, individualized radiotherapy treatment of malignancies and to develop methods and tools for their widespread clinical application.
The optimization of methodologies for the morphological delineation of the tumor before and during the treatment and for the conformation of the high dose volume to the identified tumor tissue is essential. Fundamental research related to the identification of tumor specific biological features (biological and functional imaging) and their inclusion in treatment planning (dose painting) has to be focused in the frame of this laboratory. In that respect new beam qualities, i.e. ion-beam therapy, will be explored in pre-clinical biological studies and in treatment planning studies.
Further biological pathways which are involved in tumor resistance or normal tissue sensitivity to radiotherapy will be investigated. This includes not only the outcome of treatment with regard to tumor cure, but particularly also the evaluation of normal tissue side effects of the treatment, including the identification and characterization of parameters that will allow for the definition of individual risk profiles for the development of side effects of the patients.
Another research focus lies on the identification of parameters predictive for the tumor response to the therapy or the risk for treatment complications. These parameters will be derived from novel imaging procedures (functional computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomoraphy) or biological characterization of the tumors or normal tissue.
Moreover Image Guided Adaptive Radiotherapy (IGART) for selected tumor entities is an important topic. IGART describes an adaption of the radiotherapy strategy during the treatment based on changes of the tumor and normal tissue structures assessed by various imaging methodologies. IGART related studies will be synchronized with research in functional imaging for tumor/normal tissue characterization and radiobiological research on the mechanisms of effects of therapeutic radiation exposure in normal and malignant tissues
Technology development, clinical implementation and validation of adaptive image guided treatment strategies for the optimization of dose conformation to the tumor and normal tissue sparing are investigated, such as intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) including intensity modulated arc therapy (IMAT) and image guided brachytherapy (IGBT).
Besides high precision photon beam techniques the exploration and expansion of the potential of ion-beam therapy is of particular interest in this project. A strong collaboration with the ion-beam research and treatment facility in Wiener Neustadt, i.e. MedAustron is the basis for all ion beam research investigations.
The unique options offered by the proposed CD Laboratory for Radiation Research for Radiation Oncology are in the combination of joint research activities in radiation biology at the molecular, cellular, tissue, and organ level, and physical/technological developments in functional imaging and adaptive radiotherapy, with particular emphasis on application to ion-beam versus conventional, high quality photon beam therapy.