- Press Release Distribution

MD Anderson Research Highlights: ASTRO 2023 Special Edition

Featuring presentations on novel combination therapies and analytical methods

( SAN DIEGO ― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Research Highlights showcases the latest breakthroughs in cancer care, research and prevention. These advances are made possible through seamless collaboration between MD Anderson’s world-leading clinicians and scientists, bringing discoveries from the lab to the clinic and back.

This special edition features presentations by MD Anderson researchers at the 2023 American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Annual Meeting. Information on all MD Anderson ASTRO Annual Meeting content can be found at

Read this press release in the MD Anderson Newsroom.

Assessing HPV circulating cell-free DNA kinetics could yield valuable insights for cervical cancer (Abstract 107)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a primary cause of cervical cancer, and viral HPV DNA can be detected in the blood of patients with cervical cancer. A new study presented by Aaron Seo, M.D., Ph.D., revealed important insights from analyzing the kinetics of this circulating DNA. In this study, researchers found the levels of viral HPV DNA changed dynamically throughout the course of chemoradiation and that treatment with a therapeutic HPV vaccine was associated with a more rapid decline in circulating DNA. These promising findings indicate the need for additional studies to determine how the kinetics of cell-free HPV DNA may provide further information into disease extent, clinical stage and treatment response. Seo will present the results on Oct. 1.

Radiation therapy may prime immune systems of patients with oligometastatic prostate cancer (Abstract 157)

In the EXTEND trial, metastasis-directed treatments using a combination of radiation therapy and hormone therapy improved progression-free survival compared with hormone therapy alone. However, the mechanisms and biomarkers predicting patient responses are not well understood. In a new study presented by Alexander Sherry, M.D., researchers studied the immune systems of patients in this trial and found that radiation plus hormone therapy promoted a stronger immune response than hormone therapy alone. Further, among patients receiving radiation, those with stronger immune responses had better outcomes. This study provides a possible link between metastasis-direction radiation, the systemic immune response and overall disease control. The results pave the way for new studies combining immunotherapies with radiation and hormone therapy and for personalizing treatments based on a patient’s immune system. Sherry will present the findings on Oct. 2.

Lymphopenia during bridging radiation therapy not associated with poorer outcomes in patients with aggressive B-cell lymphomas (Abstract 195)

Bridging radiation therapy has been used as a strategy for disease control in patients with relapsed or refractory aggressive B-cell lymphoma prior to treatment with anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy. However, there have been concerns about treatment-related lymphopenia, a condition of low white blood cell counts with a documented correlation to adverse patient outcomes in several cancer types. In a retrospective study of 40 patients presented by Gohar Manzar, M.D., Ph.D., researchers found that lymphopenia due to bridging radiation therapy was not associated with worse treatment responses or survival outcomes in these types of B-cell lymphoma patients. The findings support consideration of bridging radiation therapy as a treatment option in this context. Manzar will share the results on Oct. 2.

New MRI technology shows potential in measuring treatment responses for pancreatic cancer (Abstract 224)

Intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an emerging imaging technique used to measure tissue characteristics without the use of a contrast agent, but continued research is needed to correlate the measurable characteristics of IVIM with tumor radiation responses. In a study of 12 patients with pancreatic cancer presented by Lucas McCullum, IVIM scans showed significant differences between patients stratified by changes in CA19-9, a pancreatic tumor marker correlated with response. According to the researchers, these findings warrant continued investigation into IVIM as an approach to characterize treatment responses. McCullum will present the results on Oct. 3.

New PET/CT software could simplify and improve radiation treatment planning for lung cancer (Abstract 270)

Currently, radiation treatment planning for patients with non-small cell lung cancer requires two imaging sessions, a gated 4D-computed tomography (CT) scan and a non-gated positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scan. Data from those sessions are used to simulate radiation therapy, yet combining these data from two different sessions can make it challenging to assess treatment response and plan treatments effectively. A new prototype software presented by Tinsu Pan, Ph.D., allows the same information to be gathered in a single imaging session of less than 15 minutes. The imaging is free of misregistration and motion artifacts, without any hardware gating and without the need for an external respiratory monitoring device. This approach could improve not only the patient experience but also the ability of clinicians to assess radiation treatment plans. Pan will present the findings on Oct. 4.

Novel antibody-toxin conjugate targeting CD47 improves immune responses against breast cancer models (Abstract 304)

Macrophages engulf and neutralize malignant cells through a process called phagocytosis. However, tumor cells can avoid phagocytosis by increasing expression of the “don’t eat me” signal, CD47. Blocking CD47 has an antitumor effect driven by the STING pathway, which facilities immune responses to cytoplasmic DNA. However, cytoplasmic DNA is destroyed in the phagocytosis process, limiting effectiveness of CD47 blockade. A new antibody-toxin conjugate engineered in the Wen Jiang Laboratory overcomes this by linking anti-CD47 to listeriolysin O (LLO), a pore-forming protein that allows tumor DNA to escape phagolysosomes and activate STING. LLO-CD47 is a first-in-class antibody-toxin conjugate engineered for cancer immunotherapy. In a preclinical analysis presented by Benjamin Schrank, M.D., Ph.D., LLO-CD47 enhanced macrophage STING signaling and tumor cell phagocytosis, preventing the growth and metastasis of breast tumors. The findings suggest this novel immunotherapy warrants further evaluation as a treatment option for metastatic breast cancer. Schrank will present the results on Oct. 4.

New approach may broaden patients able to receive liver-directed ablative radiotherapy (Abstract 309)

Ablative radiation therapy is designed to deliver intense doses of radiation to a tumor while limiting exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. For treating tumors in the liver, traditional guidelines specify a minimum volume of 700cc of healthy liver tissue should be spared from potentially damaging doses of radiation, but not all patients can meet that requirement. A new study presented by Enoch Chang, M.D., shows that ablative radiotherapy can be safely delivered using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) image guidance, enabling lower volumes of functional liver than typically accepted in patients with low functional liver volume. In a study of 12 patients, including those with hepatocellular carcinoma, intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma or liver metastases, no patients experienced dose-limiting toxicities with this approach. If confirmed in larger trials, this approach could broaden the number of patients able to receive liver-directed ablative radiation therapy. Chang will present the findings on Oct. 4.

ASTRO awards and honors

Kristi Brock, Ph.D., professor of Imaging Physics, named to 2023 class of ASTRO Fellows Wendy Woodward, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair ad interim of Breast Radiation Oncology, elected vice chair of the ASTRO Science Council END


University of Virginia team’s research offers hope for pulmonary fibrosis patients

University of Virginia team’s research offers hope for pulmonary fibrosis patients
Using a new recipe for growing blood vessels from living lung tissue in the lab, a University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science research team has developed an analytical tool that could lead to a cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, a lung-destroying disease. Fibrosis is chronic scarring of tissue and it can strike nearly every system in the body. According to the National Institutes of Health, the government estimates that 45% of deaths in the United States can be attributed to fibrotic disorders. In the lungs, fibrosis restricts breathing, so understanding how scarring occurs, and ultimately how to stop it, ...

Department of Energy funds new center for decarbonization of steelmaking

Department of Energy funds new center for decarbonization of steelmaking
Center to develop cost-effective method for decarbonized manufacturing for steelmaking without a blast furnace. Steel has a major impact on everyone’s lives and our economy. It is crucial to cars, trucks, airplanes, buildings and more. However, there is a significant issue with its production process. Globally, it accounts for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial sector. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced $19 million in funding over four years for DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory ...

New criteria to assess progression in glioma aims to speed discovery of new medicines

Study Title: RANO 2.0: Update to the Response Assessment in Neuro-Oncology Criteria for High- and Low-Grade Gliomas in Adults Publication: Journal of Clinical Oncology Dana-Farber Cancer Institute author: Patrick Y. Wen, MD Summary: In order to accurately assess the efficacy of novel therapies for brain tumors it is necessary to have reliable criteria to determine response or progression. Response assessment in brain tumors is difficult because of the irregular shapes of the tumors and the fact that many therapies used to treat these tumors can also produce imaging changes that resemble tumor ...

NPS team makes key breakthrough on path to electric aircraft propulsion

NPS team makes key breakthrough on path to electric aircraft propulsion
As an institution renowned for innovation efforts grounded in education and research, the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) has often been called upon to tackle some of the most difficult technological challenges facing the Navy and the nation. Such a challenge emerged in 2020, when NASA charged NPS and two other research teams with solving a critical barrier facing the development of electric aircraft propulsion (EAP): the creation of a circuit breaker that could support large electric platforms running on direct current (DC) electricity. Thanks to the efforts of a diverse team of faculty and students, as well as several Navy and academic research partners, NPS delivered ...

Berkeley Lab awarded two new centers to counter climate change

Berkeley Lab awarded two new centers to counter climate change
The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will host two new centers dedicated to advancing clean energy technology and combating climate change. The awards are part of DOE’s Energy Earthshots Initiative that launched in 2021 with the goal of speeding up technological breakthroughs and lowering costs.  DOE has so far launched seven Earthshots spanning clean energy and carbon reduction technologies. The Berkeley Lab programs announced today will address two of them: the Hydrogen ...

Stanford researchers unveil new material infused with gold in an exotic chemical state

For the first time, Stanford researchers have found a way to create and stabilize an extremely rare form of gold that has lost two negatively charged electrons, denoted Au2+. The material stabilizing this elusive version of the valued element is a halide perovskite—a class of crystalline materials that holds great promise for various applications including more-efficient solar cells, light sources, and electronics components. Surprisingly, the Au2+ perovskite is also quick and simple to make using off-the-shelf ingredients at room temperature. "It was a real surprise that we were able to synthesize a stable material containing Au2+—I didn't even believe it at ...

Research Highlights for September 2023

Research Highlights for September 2023
Huntsman Cancer Institute shines the spotlight on new discoveries and cutting-edge cancer research. This month, researchers found that increasing access for Black people with prostate cancer may save lives. Also, the first patient in a new small cell lung cancer clinical trial has been enrolled, researchers are using an app to help adolescents and young adults manage cancer symptoms, and investigators are trying to reduce cognitive side-effects after chemotherapy.  Increasing access to Black people with prostate cancer may decrease mortality rate In a study published ...

JMIR Publications places No, 348 on The Globe and Mail's annual ranking of Canada's Top Growing Companies

JMIR Publications places No, 348 on The Globe and Mails annual ranking of Canadas Top Growing Companies
(Toronto, September 29, 2023) JMIR Publications is pleased to announce it placed No. 348 on the 2023 Report on Business ranking of Canada’s Top Growing Companies, making the ranking over the past three consecutive years. Canada’s Top Growing Companies ranks Canadian companies on three-year revenue growth. JMIR Publications earned its spot with three-year growth of 105%. “Being ranked on this list, year over year, showcases JMIR Publications’ national and global leadership in publishing high-quality open access ...

Argonne National Laboratory launches South Side STEM Opportunity Landscape Project at DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center

Argonne National Laboratory launches South Side STEM Opportunity Landscape Project at DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center
A transformative initiative aimed at identifying, enhancing and promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics resources within local communities. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is proud to announce the official launch of the South Side STEM Opportunity Landscape Project, a transformative initiative aimed at identifying, enhancing and promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) resources within local communities. As part of the Argonne in Chicago initiative that includes offices in Hyde Park, the ...

Allergy study on 'wild' mice challenges the hygiene hypothesis

The notion that some level of microbial exposure might reduce our risk of developing allergies has arisen over the last few decades and has been termed the hygiene hypothesis. Now, an article published in Science Immunology by researchers from Karolinska Institutet challenges this hypothesis by showing that mice with high infectious exposures from birth have the same, if not an even greater ability to develop allergic immune responses than 'clean' laboratory mice. How microbes may prevent allergy has been a topic of great interest in recent times. Studies have suggested that certain infections might reduce the production of inflammatory antibodies to ...


Grafted cucumbers get a boost: pumpkin's secret to withstanding salinity

Unlocking broccoli's genome: key to enhanced health benefits

New insights into methyl jasmonate-induced saponin biosynthesis in balloon flower

Unraveling the role of ADGRF5: Insights into kidney health and function

JMIR Dermatology accepted for MEDLINE indexing

Reduced infections seen in CLL and NHL patients undergoing immunoglobulin testing and replacement therapy

Human activity: A double-edged sword in the face of drought

Portfolio performance in financial management: apraize, analyze, act.

Landmark Nature Medicine study reports promising new treatment reduces suffering in Sanfilippo syndrome

Membrane protein analogues could accelerate drug discovery

Berkeley Lab researchers advance AI-driven plant root analysis

Cleveland Clinic study shows weight loss surgery cuts risk of heart complications and death in patients with obstructive sleep apnea and obesity

SQUID pries open AI black box

Resiliency shaped by activity in the gut microbiome and brain

Inspired by nature: synthetic nightshade molecule effective against leukemia cells

Promise green hydrogen may not always be fulfilled

Unifying behavioral analysis through animal foundation models

Up to 30 percent more time: Climate change makes it harder for women to collect water

Heart failure in space: scientists calculate potential health threats facing future space tourists in microgravity

Experts offer guidance on talking with children about racism at pediatrician's office

Drugs for HIV and AIDS trialed as brain tumor treatment for first time

Breakthrough in nanoscale force measurement opens doors to unprecedented biological insights

Scientists discover new behavior of membranes that could lead to unprecedented separations

When inflicting pain on others pays off T

The Lancet: Managing gestational diabetes much earlier in pregnancy can prevent complications and improve long-term health outcomes, experts say

New study finds dinosaur fossils did not inspire the mythological griffin

NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg to deliver keynote address at ISSRDC focused on developing a space workforce

Study: Fatigue-management training improved sleep, safety, well-being for Seattle police

Guiding humanity beyond the moon: OHIO’s Nate Szewczyk and students coauthor papers published in “Nature” journals that revolutionize human space biology

Grant supports research to identify barriers to health care for Black women

[] MD Anderson Research Highlights: ASTRO 2023 Special Edition
Featuring presentations on novel combination therapies and analytical methods