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The CiMUS of the USC incorporates proton therapy as a new line of research

  • It does so with its new PI Yolanda Prezado, a leading scientist in Paris in this field.
  • The transversal nature of this area will allow synergies to be established with the different groups of this Singular Centre, especially with the specialities in biology, medicine and Drug Discovery methods, given their interesting application in the field of radiotherapy.
  • Its research group has pioneered the development of a promising, less invasive and more effective radiotherapy technique based on proton mini-beams.
  • They are also working on FLASH radiotherapy; the optimisation of radio-immunotherapy combinations and the alliance of radiotherapy and nano-particles.


The CiMUS of the USC expands its research areas with a new line of study, proton therapy, and does so by adding to the team of this Singular Centre the new PI Yolanda Prezado, a leading scientist in Paris in this field. Among its objectives is to catalyse the creation of a community at regional and national level that will place Spain at the forefront of research in radio and proton therapy and radiobiology.

Photo: Alejandro González García. CiMUS

"Due to its professionals, resources, operation and strategic location, the CiMUS of the USC is the ideal ecosystem to amplify the research in this field that was being developed at the Institut Curie in Paris, a research that, due to its transversal nature, will easily establish synergies with the different groups of this Singular Centre. CiMUS's specialities in biology, medicine and Drug Discovery methods are extremely interesting to be applied in the field of radiotherapy," says the new PI.



Working lines

Yolanza Prezado founded her team in 2013 at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) under the name "New approaches in Radiotherapy" and joined the Institut Curie in 2019 as group leader in translational radiobiology. The name of the team clearly reflects the philosophy of his group, as radiotherapy is one of the pillars of cancer treatment. His team's strategy consists of modulating the biological response and, therefore, of the treatments by changing the physical parameters of the irradiation. In this line, they have pioneered the development of new radiotherapy techniques, such as proton mini-beam radiotherapy, which is less invasive and more effective by radically changing the spatial distribution of the dose. These new techniques in the pre-clinical phase employ very different modes of dose deposition from conventional radiotherapy and lead to a drastic reduction in toxicity, allowing safe dose escalation in aggressive and radioresistant tumours, thus increasing the therapeutic index.
They are also working on so-called FLASH radiotherapy, also promising for current cancer treatment, whose advantages lie in the speed of treatment delivery and reduced toxicity. Flash radiotherapy administered very quickly reduces in some cases the toxicity to healthy organs, thus maintaining the effectiveness against cancer. Other lines of work are the optimisation of radio-immunotherapy combinations and the alliance of radiotherapy and nanoparticles.


Clinical application

The new CiMUS IP recalls that current international guidelines and recommendations recommend radiotherapy for ocular tumours, including intraocular melanomas; tumours approaching or located at the base of the skull (such as chordomas); primary or metastatic spinal tumours where spinal cord tolerance can be overcome with conventional treatment or where the spinal cord has previously undergone conventional treatment; hepatocellular cancer; certain types of primary or benign solid tumours in treated children (many in the central nervous system); patients with genetic syndromes that make it crucial to minimise the total radiation volume, such as, but not limited to, patients with NF-1 and retinoblastoma; primary malignant and benign tumours of the central nervous system; cases of re-irradiation (where the cumulative dose to the critical structure would exceed the tolerance dose) and some others.

Prezado points out that the indications will expand as research progresses and as more and more evidence of potential advantage in other locations is acquired.


Paradigm shift

The new CiMUS PI points out that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift in the speciality of radiotherapy. "First, because it is evolving from being a technology-driven discipline to a biology-driven one.  And as such, research is becoming more interdisciplinary and more focused on radiobiology and more interfaced with other disciplines such as immunology, genetics, bioinformatics and others. And second, because the scientific observations and results of the last decade are generating a very important change in mentality and clinical practice. For example, there is a growing trend towards hypofractionated treatments (giving higher doses in fewer sessions), which can be beneficial in terms of response and cost of treatment. Or certain ideas considered "heterodox" until a few years ago are increasingly accepted, such as the idea that to eradicate a tumour, strictly homogeneous doses are not necessary," concludes the researcher.


New Approaches in Radiotherapy Group - Yolanda Prezado