Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Researchers to Study Genetic Causes of Radiation-Induced Heart Complications
With more than $2.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, this five-year project will be led by breast cancer researcher Carmen Bergom, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Surgery at MCW.
Mounting evidence suggests that complex genetic modifiers contribute to the risk of radiation-induced toxicities in cancer patients, yet these genetic modifiers remain largely unknown and poorly understood. Furthermore, no genetic variants are currently used to dictate radiation dose constraints to the heart, and no therapies exist to protect against radiation-induced heart damage. Dr. Bergom’s team has developed the first genetic model to identify hereditary modifiers of this condition, and preliminary results indicate that it may be possible to identify individuals at a high risk for radiation-induced heart disease based on the presence of inheritable genetic mutations.
“The aim of this study is to use genetic mapping to identify why some individuals suffer radiation-induced heart disease or failure while others do not, and to test the efficacy of novel therapies to prevent or mitigate these complications,” Dr. Bergom said. “By focusing on using unique genetic models to enhance the therapeutic ratio of radiation, this research will ultimately lead to more effective and personalized cancer care.”
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