Giuseppe Schettino

Professor Giuseppe Schettino

Associate Tutor in Medical Physics



Research interests


Gabrielle Wishart, Priyanka Gupta, Giuseppe Schettino, Andrew Nisbet, Eirini Velliou (2021)3d tissue models as tools for radiotherapy screening for pancreatic cancer, In: British journal of radiology94(1120)20201397 British Institute of Radiology

The efficiency of radiotherapy treatment regimes varies from tumour to tumour and from patient to patient but it is generally highly influenced by the tumour microenvironment (TME). The TME can be described as a heterogeneous composition of biological, biophysical, biomechanical and biochemical milieus that influence the tumour survival and its' response to treatment. Preclinical research faces challenges in the replication of these milieus for predictable treatment response studies. 2D cell culture is a traditional, simplistic and cost-effective approach to culture cells , however, the nature of the system fails to recapitulate important features of the TME such as structure, cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. At the same time, the traditional use of animals (Xenografts) in cancer research allows realistic architecture, however foreign physiology, limited heterogeneity and reduced tumour mutation rates impairs relevance to humans. Furthermore, animal research is very time consuming and costly. Tissue engineering is advancing as a promising biomimetic approach, producing 3D models that capture structural, biophysical, biochemical and biomechanical features, therefore, facilitating more realistic treatment response studies for further clinical application. However, currently, the application of 3D models for radiation response studies is an understudied area of research, especially for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), a cancer with a notoriously complex microenvironment. At the same time, specific novel and/or more enhanced radiotherapy tumour-targeting techniques such as MRI-guided radiotherapy and proton therapy are emerging to more effectively target pancreatic cancer cells. However, these emerging technologies may have different biological effectiveness as compared to established photon-based radiotherapy. For example, for MRI-guided radiotherapy, the novel use of static magnetic fields (SMF) during radiation delivery is understudied and not fully understood. Thus, reliable biomimetic platforms to test new radiation delivery strategies are required to more accurately predict responses. Here, we aim to collate current 3D models for radiation response studies of PDAC, identifying the state of the art and outlines knowledge gaps. Overall, this review paper highlights the need for further research on the use of 3D models for pre-clinical radiotherapy screening including (i) 3D (re)-modeling of the PDAC hypoxic TME to allow for late effects of ionising radiation (ii) the screening of novel radiotherapy approaches and their combinations as well as (iii) a universally accepted 3D-model image quantification method for evaluating TME components that would facilitate accurate post-treatment(s) quantitative comparisons.

Gabrielle Wishart, Priyanka Gupta, Andrew Nisbet, Eirini Velliou, Giuseppe Schettino (2021)Novel Anticancer and Treatment Sensitizing Compounds against Pancreatic Cancer, In: Cancers13(12)2940 MDPI

The isolation of chemical compounds from natural origins for medical application has played an important role in modern medicine with a range of novel treatments having emerged from various natural forms over the past decades. Natural compounds have been exploited for their antioxidant, antimicrobial and antitumor capabilities. Specifically, 60% of today’s anticancer drugs originate from natural sources. Moreover, the combination of synthetic and natural treatments has shown applications for (i) reduced side effects, (ii) treatment sensitization and (iii) reduction in treatment resistance. This review aims to collate novel and natural compounds that are being explored for their preclinical anticancer, chemosensitizing and radiosensitizing effects on Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC), which is a lethal disease with current treatments being inefficient and causing serve side effects. Two key points are highlighted by this work: (i) the availability of a range of natural compounds for potentially new therapeutic approaches for PDAC, (ii) potential synergetic impact of natural compounds with advanced chemo- and radio-therapeutic modalities for PDAC.

Gabrielle Wishart, Priyanka Gupta, Andrew Nisbet, Giuseppe Schettino, Eirini Velliou (2021)On the Evaluation of a Novel Hypoxic 3D Pancreatic Cancer Model as a Tool for Radiotherapy Treatment Screening, In: Cancers13(23)6080 MDPI

Tissue engineering is evolving to mimic intricate ecosystems of tumour microenvironments (TME) to more readily map realistic in vivo niches of cancerous tissues. Such advanced cancer tissue models enable more accurate preclinical assessment of treatment strategies. Pancreatic cancer is a dangerous disease with high treatment resistance that is directly associated with a highly complex TME. More specifically, the pancreatic cancer TME includes (i) complex structure and complex extracellular matrix (ECM) protein composition; (ii) diverse cell populations (e.g., stellate cells), cancer associated fibroblasts, endothelial cells, which interact with the cancer cells and promote resistance to treatment and metastasis; (iii) accumulation of high amounts of (ECM), which leads to the creation of a fibrotic/desmoplastic reaction around the tumour; and (iv) heterogeneous environmental gradients such as hypoxia, which result from vessel collapse and stiffness increase in the fibrotic/desmoplastic area of the TME. These unique hallmarks are not effectively recapitulated in traditional preclinical research despite radiotherapeutic resistance being largely connected to them. Herein, we investigate, for the first time, the impact of in vitro hypoxia (5% O2) on the radiotherapy treatment response of pancreatic cancer cells (PANC-1) in a novel polymer (polyurethane) based highly macroporous scaffold that was surface modified with proteins (fibronectin) for ECM mimicry. More specifically, PANC-1 cells were seeded in fibronectin coated macroporous scaffolds and were cultured for four weeks in in vitro normoxia (21% O2), followed by a two day exposure to either in vitro hypoxia (5% O2) or maintenance in in vitro normoxia. Thereafter, in situ post-radiation monitoring (one day, three days, seven days post-irradiation) of the 3D cell cultures took place via quantification of (i) live/dead and apoptotic profiles and (ii) ECM (collagen-I) and HIF-1a secretion by the cancer cells. Our results showed increased post-radiation viability, reduced apoptosis, and increased collagen-I and HIF-1a secretion in in vitro hypoxia compared to normoxic cultures, revealing hypoxia-induced radioprotection. Overall, this study employed a low cost, animal free model enabling (i) the possibility of long-term in vitro hypoxic 3D cell culture for pancreatic cancer, and (ii) in vitro hypoxia associated PDAC radio-protection development. Our novel platform for radiation treatment screening can be used for long-term in vitro post-treatment observations as well as for fractionated radiotherapy treatment.

Kathryn H. Brown, Mihaela Ghita, Giuseppe Schettino, Kevin M. Prise, Karl T. Butterworth (2020)Evaluation of a Novel Liquid Fiducial Marker, BioXmark®, for Small Animal Image-Guided Radiotherapy Applications, In: Cancers12(5)1276 MDPI

BioXmark®(Nanovi A/S, Denmark) is a novel fiducial marker based on a liquid, iodine-basedand non-metallic formulation. BioXmark®has been clinically validated and reverse translated topreclinical models to improve cone-beam CT (CBCT) target delineation in small animal image-guidedradiotherapy (SAIGRT). However, in phantom image analysis andin vivoevaluation of radiobiologicalresponse after the injection of BioXmark®are yet to be reported. In phantom measurements wereperformed to compare CBCT imaging artefacts with solid fiducials and determine optimum imagingparameters for BioXmark®.In vivostability of BioXmark®was assessed over a 5-month period, andthe impact of BioXmark®onin vivotumour response from single-fraction and fractionated X-rayexposures was investigated in a subcutaneous syngeneic tumour model. BioXmark®was stable, welltolerated and detectable on CBCT at volumes≤10μL. Our data showed imaging artefacts reduced byup to 84% and 89% compared to polymer and gold fiducial markers, respectively. BioXmark®wasshown to have no significant impact on tumour growth in control animals, but changes were observedin irradiated animals injected with BioXmark®due to alterations in dose calculations induced by thesharp contrast enhancement. BioXmark®is superior to solid fiducials with reduced imaging artefactson CBCT. With minimal impact on the tumour growth delay, BioXmark®can be implemented inSAIGRT to improve target delineation and reduce set-up errors

F. Hanton, P. Chaudhary, D. Doria, D. Gwynne, C. Maiorino, C. Scullion, H. Ahmed, T. Marshall, K. Naughton, L. Romagnani, S. Kar, G. Schettino, P. McKenna, S. Botchway, D. R. Symes, P. P. Rajeev, K. M. Prise, M. Borghesi (2019)DNA DSB Repair Dynamics following Irradiation with Laser-Driven Protons at Ultra-High Dose Rates, In: Scientific Reports94471pp. 1-10 Nature Research

Protontherapy has emerged as more effective in the treatment of certain tumors than photon based therapies. However, significant capital and operational costs make protontherapy less accessible. This has stimulated interest in alternative proton delivery approaches, and in this context the use of laser-based technologies for the generation of ultra-high dose rate ion beams has been proposed as a prospective route. A better understanding of the radiobiological effects at ultra-high dose-rates is important for any future clinical adoption of this technology. In this study, we irradiated human skin fibroblasts-AG01522B cells with laser-accelerated protons at a dose rate of 109 Gy/s, generated using the Gemini laser system at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK. We studied DNA double strand break (DSB) repair kinetics using the p53 binding protein-1(53BP1) foci formation assay and observed a close similarity in the 53BP1 foci repair kinetics in the cells irradiated with 225 kVp X-rays and ultra- high dose rate protons for the initial time points. At the microdosimetric scale, foci per cell per track values showed a good correlation between the laser and cyclotron-accelerated protons indicating similarity in the DNA DSB induction and repair, independent of the time duration over which the dose was delivered.

KF Kakolee, D Doria, S Kar, S Lift, M Zepf, M Borghesi, D Kirby, F Fiorini, S Green, K Kirby, JC Jeynes, M Merchant, J Kavanagh, G Schettino (2011)Cell irradiation experiment using laser driven protons at ultra high dose rate, In: 38th EPS Conference on Plasma Physics 2011, EPS 2011 - Europhysics Conference Abstracts35 1pp. 133-136

The effect of proton irradiation of biological cells, on timescales orders of magnitude shorter than with conventional accelerators, has been investigated by employing the TARANIS laser at Queen's University. Multiple cell-spots with different doses and proton energies were irradiated at the same time in a single laser shot at dose rates exceeding 109 Gy/sec. The data show a clear dose-dependant lethal effect of laser-driven protons over V-79 cells. A comparison with the survival obtained with an X-Ray standard source has been done and the resulting relative biological effectiveness (RBE) is about 1.3 at 10%.

K. Kokurewicz, E. Brunetti, G. H. Welsh, S. M. Wiggins, M. Boyd, A. Sorensen, A. J. Chalmers, G. Schettino, A. Subiel, C. DesRosiers, D. A. Jaroszynski (2019)Focused very high-energy electron beams as a novel radiotherapy modality for producing high-dose volumetric elements, In: Scientific Reports910837pp. 1-10 Nature Research

The increased inertia of very high-energy electrons (VHEEs) due to relativistic effects reduces scattering and enables irradiation of deep-seated tumours. However, entrance and exit doses are high for collimated or diverging beams. Here, we perform a study based on Monte Carlo simulations of focused VHEE beams in a water phantom, showing that dose can be concentrated into a small, well-defined volumetric element, which can be shaped or scanned to treat deep-seated tumours. The dose to surrounding tissue is distributed over a larger volume, which reduces peak surface and exit doses for a single beam by more than one order of magnitude compared with a collimated beam.

Reem Ahmad, Giuseppe Schettino, Gary Royle, Miriam Barry, Quentin A. Pankhurst, Olivier Tillement, Ben Russell, Kate Ricketts (2020)Radiobiological Implications of Nanoparticles Following Radiation Treatment, In: Particle & Particle Systems Characterization37(4)1900411 Wiley

Materials with a high atomic number (Z) are shown to cause an increase in the level of cell kill by ionizing radiation when introduced into tumor cells. This study uses in vitro experiments to investigate the differences in radiosensitization between two cell lines (MCF‐7 and U87) and three commercially available nanoparticles (gold, gadolinium, and iron oxide) irradiated by 6 MV X‐rays. To assess cell survival, clonogenic assays are carried out for all variables considered, with a concentration of 0.5 mg mL−1 for each nanoparticle material used. This study demonstrates differences in cell survival between nanoparticles and cell line. U87 shows the greatest enhancement with gadolinium nanoparticles (2.02 ± 0.36), whereas MCF‐7 cells have higher enhancement with gold nanoparticles (1.74 ± 0.08). Mass spectrometry, however, shows highest elemental uptake with iron oxide and U87 cells with 4.95 ± 0.82 pg of iron oxide per cell. A complex relationship between cellular elemental uptake is demonstrated, highlighting an inverse correlation with the enhancement, but a positive relation with DNA damage when comparing the same nanoparticle between the two cell lines

Anna Subiel, Ileana Silvestre Patallo, Hugo Palmans, Miriam Barry, Amanda Tulk, Georgios Soultanidis, John Greenman, Victoria L Green, Christopher Cawthorne, Giuseppe Schettino (2020)The influence of lack of reference conditions on dosimetry in pre-clinical radiotherapy with medium energy x-ray beams, In: Physics in Medicine & Biology65(8)085016 IOP Publishing

Despite well-established dosimetry in clinical radiotherapy, dose measurements in pre-clinical and radiobiology studies are frequently inadequate, thus undermining the reliability and reproducibility of published findings. The lack of suitable dosimetry protocols, coupled with the increasing complexity of pre-clinical irradiation platforms, undermines confidence in preclinical studies and represents a serious obstacle in the translation to clinical practice. To accurately measure output of a pre-clinical radiotherapy unit, appropriate Codes of Practice (CoP) for medium energy x-rays needs to be employed. However, determination of absorbed dose to water (Dw) relies on application of backscatter factor (Bw) employing in-air method or carrying out in-phantom measurement at the reference depth of 2 cm in a full backscatter (i.e. 30 × 30 × 30 cm3) condition. Both of these methods require thickness of at least 30 cm of underlying material, which are never fulfilled in typical pre-clinical irradiations. This work is focused on evaluation the effects of the lack of recommended reference conditions in dosimetry measurements for pre-clinical settings and is aimed at extending the recommendations of the current CoP to practical experimental conditions and highlighting the potential impact of the lack of correct backscatter considerations on radiobiological studies.

Gareth Price, Emma R Biglin, Sean Collins, Adam Aitkinhead, Anna Subiel, Amy L Chadwick, David, M Cullen, Karen J Kirkby, Giuseppe Schettino, Jill Tipping, Andrew Robinson (2020)An open source heterogeneous 3D printed mouse phantom utilising a novel bone representative thermoplastic, In: Physics in Medicine & Biology65(10)10NT02 IOP Publishing

The lack of rigorous quality standards in pre-clinical radiation dosimetry has renewed interest in the development of anthropomorphic phantoms. Using 3D printing customisable phantoms can be created to assess all parts of pre-clinical radiation research: planning, image guidance and treatment delivery. We present the full methodology, including material development and printing designs, for the production of a high spatial resolution, anatomically realistic heterogeneous small animal phantom. A methodology for creating and validating tissue equivalent materials is presented. The technique is demonstrated through the development of a bone-equivalent material. This material is used together with a soft-tissue mimicking ABS plastic filament to reproduce the corresponding structure geometries captured from a CT scan of a nude mouse. Air gaps are used to represent the lungs. Phantom validation was performed through comparison of the geometry and x-ray attenuation of CT images of the phantom and animal images. A 6.6% difference in the attenuation of the bone-equivalent material compared to the reference standard in softer beams (0.5 mm Cu HVL) rapidly decreases as the beam is hardened. CT imaging shows accurate (sub-millimetre) reproduction of the skeleton (Distance-To-Agreement 0.5 mm ± 0.4 mm) and body surface (0.7 mm ± 0.5 mm). Histograms of the voxel intensity profile of the phantom demonstrate suitable similarity to those of both the original mouse image and that of a different animal. We present an approach for the efficient production of an anthropomorphic phantom suitable for the quality assurance of pre-clinical radiotherapy. Our design and full methodology are provided as open source to encourage the pre-clinical radiobiology community to adopt a common QA standard.

George Soultanidis, Anna Subiel, Isaline Renard, Anna Merle Reinhart, Victoria L Green, Uwe Oelfke, Stephen J Archibald, John Greenman, Amanda Tulk, Adrian Walker, Giuseppe Schettino, Christopher J Cawthorne (2019)Development of an anatomically correct mouse phantom for dosimetry measurement in small animal radiotherapy research, In: Physics in Medicine & Biology64(12)12NT02pp. 1-11 IOP Publishing

Significant improvements in radiotherapy are likely to come from biological rather than technical optimization, for example increasing tumour radiosensitivity via combination with targeted therapies. Such paradigms must first be evaluated in preclinical models for efficacy, and recent advances in small animal radiotherapy research platforms allow advanced irradiation protocols, similar to those used clinically, to be carried out in orthotopic models. Dose assessment in such systems is complex however, and a lack of established tools and methodologies for traceable and accurate dosimetry is currently limiting the capabilities of such platforms and slowing the clinical uptake of new approaches. Here we report the creation of an anatomically correct phantom, fabricated from materials with tissue-equivalent electron density, into which dosimetry detectors can be incorporated for measurement as part of quality control (QC). The phantom also allows training in preclinical radiotherapy planning and cross-institution validation of dose delivery protocols for small animal radiotherapy platforms without the need to sacrifice animals, with high reproducibility. Mouse CT data was acquired and segmented into soft tissue, bone and lung. The skeleton was fabricated using 3D printing, whilst lung was created using computer numerical control (CNC) milling. Skeleton and lung were then set into a surface-rendered mould and soft tissue material added to create a whole-body phantom. Materials for fabrication were characterized for atomic composition and attenuation for x-ray energies typically found in small animal irradiators. Finally cores were CNC milled to allow intracranial incorporation of bespoke detectors (alanine pellets) for dosimetry measurement.

Jonathan Kim Mohajer, Andrew Nisbet, Eirini Velliou, Mazhar Ajaz, Giuseppe Schettino (2018)Biological effects of static magnetic field exposure in the context of MR-guided radiotherapy, In: British Journal of Radiation92(1094) British Institute of Radiology

The clinical introduction of magnetic resonance imaging guided radiotherapy has prompted consideration of the potential impact of the static magnetic field on biological responses to radiation. This review provides an introduction to the mechanisms of biological interaction of radiation and magnetic fields individually, in addition to a description of the magnetic field effects on megavoltage photon beams at the macroscale, microscale and nanoscale arising from the Lorentz force on secondary charged particles. A relatively small number of scientific studies have measured the impact of combined static magnetic fields and ionising radiation on biological endpoints of relevance to radiotherapy. Approximately half of these investigations found that static magnetic fields in combination with ionising radiation produced a significantly different outcome compared with ionising radiation alone. MRI strength static magnetic fields appear to modestly influence the radiation response via a mechanism distinct from modification to the dose distribution. This review intends to serve as a reference for future biological studies, such that understanding of static magnetic field plus ionising radiation synergism may be improved, and if necessary, accounted for in magnetic resonance imaging guided radiotherapy treatment planning.

M Borghesi, S Kar, R Prasad, FK Kakolee, K Quinn, H Ahmed, G Sarri, B Ramakrishna, B Qiao, M Geissler, S Ter-Avetisyan, M Zepf, G Schettino, B Stevens, M Tolley, A Ward, J Green, PF Foster, C Spindloe, P Gallegos, AL Robinson, D Neely, DC Carroll, O Tresca, X Yuan, M Quinn, P McKenna, N Dover, C Palmer, J Schreiber, Z Najmudin, I Sari, M Kraft, M Merchant, JC Jeynes, K Kirkby, F Fiorini, D Kirby, S Green (2011)Ion source development and radiobiology applications within the LIBRA project, In: WP Leemans, E Esarey, SM Hooker, KWD Ledingham, K Spohr, P McKenna (eds.), LASER ACCELERATION OF ELECTRONS, PROTONS, AND IONS AND MEDICAL APPLICATIONS OF LASER-GENERATED SECONDARY SOURCES OF RADIATION AND PARTICLES8079
D Doria, KF Kakolee, S Kar, SK Litt, F Fiorini, H Ahmed, S Green, JG Jeynes, J Kavanagh, D Kirby, KJ Kirkby, CL Lewis, MJ Merchant, G Nersisyan, R Prasad, KM Prise, G Schettino, M Zepf, M Borghesi (2012)Biological cell irradiation at ultrahigh dose rate employing laser driven protons, In: AIP Conference Proceedings1462pp. 135-138

The ultrashort duration of laser-driven multi-MeV ion bursts offers the possibility of radiobiological studies at extremely high dose rates. Employing the TARANIS Terawatt laser at Queen's University, the effect of proton irradiation at MeV-range energies on live cells has been investigated at dose rates exceeding 109Gy/s as a single exposure. A clonogenic assay showed consistent lethal effects on V-79 live cells, which, even at these dose rates, appear to be in line with previously published results employing conventional sources. A Relative Biological Effectiveness (RBE) of 1.4±0.2 at 10% survival is estimated from a comparison with a 225 kVp X-ray source. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.

Ileana Silvestre Patallo, Anna Subiel, Adam Westhorpe, Clare Gouldstone, Amanda Tulk, Ricky A. Sharma, Giuseppe Schettino (2020)Development and Implementation of an End-To-End Test for Absolute Dose Verification of Small Animal Preclinical Irradiation Research Platforms, In: International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics107(3)pp. 587-596 Elsevier

Purpose Lack of standardization and inaccurate dosimetry assessment in preclinical research is hampering translational opportunities for new radiation therapy interventions. The aim of this work was to develop and implement an end-to-end dosimetry test for small animal radiation research platforms to monitor and help improve accuracy of dose delivery and standardization across institutions. Methods and Materials The test is based on a bespoke zoomorphic heterogeneous mouse and WT1 Petri dish phantoms with alanine as a reference detector. Alanine measurements within the mouse phantom were validated with Monte Carlo simulations at 0.5 mm Cu x-ray reference beam. Energy dependence of alanine in medium x-ray beam qualities was taken into consideration. For the end-to-end test, treatment plans considering tissue heterogeneities were created in Muriplan treatment planning systems (TPS) and delivered to the phantoms at 5 institutions using Xstrahl's small animal irradiation platforms. Mean calculated dose to the pellets were compared with alanine measured dose. Results Monte Carlo simulations and in phantom alanine measurements in NPL's reference beam were in excellent agreement, validating the experimental approach. At 1 institute, initial measurements showed a larger than 12% difference between calculated and measured dose caused by incorrect input data. The physics data used by the calculation engine were corrected, and the TPS was recommissioned. Subsequent end-to-end test measurements showed differences

Mark Newpower, Darshana Patel, Lawrence Bronk, Fada Guan, Pankaj Chaudhary, Stephen J. McMahon, Kevin M. Prise, Giuseppe Schettino, David R. Grosshans, Radhe Mohan (2019)Using the Proton Energy Spectrum and Microdosimetry to Model Proton Relative Biological Effectiveness, In: International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics104(2)pp. 316-324 Elsevier

Purpose We introduce a methodology to calculate the microdosimetric quantity dose-mean lineal energy for input into the microdosimetric kinetic model (MKM) to model the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of proton irradiation experiments. Methods and Materials The data from 7 individual proton RBE experiments were included in this study. In each experiment, the RBE at several points along the Bragg curve was measured. Monte Carlo simulations to calculate the lineal energy probability density function of 172 different proton energies were carried out with use of Geant4 DNA. We calculated the fluence-weighted lineal energy probability density function , based on the proton energy spectra calculated through Monte Carlo at each experimental depth, calculated the dose-mean lineal energy for input into the MKM, and then computed the RBE. The radius of the domain (rd) was varied to reach the best agreement between the MKM-predicted RBE and experimental RBE. A generic RBE model as a function of dose-averaged linear energy transfer (LETD) with 1 fitting parameter was presented and fit to the experimental RBE data as well to facilitate a comparison to the MKM. Results Both the MKM and LETD-based models modeled the RBE from experiments well. Values for rd were similar to those of other cell lines under proton irradiation that were modeled with the MKM. Analysis of the performance of each model revealed that neither model was clearly superior to the other. Conclusions Our 3 key accomplishments include the following: (1) We developed a method that uses the proton energy spectra and lineal energy distributions of those protons to calculate dose-mean lineal energy. (2) We demonstrated that our application of the MKM provides theoretical validation of proton irradiation experiments that show that RBE is significantly greater than 1.1. (3) We showed that there is no clear evidence that the MKM is better than LETD-based RBE models.

S Kar, D Doria, KF Kakolee, R Prasad, S Litt, H Ahmed, G Nersisyan, C Lewis, M Zepf, M Borghesi, G Schettino, KM Prise, F Fiorini, D Kirby, S Green, JCG Jeynes, MJ Merchant, KJ Kirkby (2013)First results on cell irradiation with laser-driven protons on the TARANIS system, In: AIP Conference Proceedings1546pp. 87-89

The ultra short duration of laser-driven multi-MeV ion bursts offers the possibility of radiobiological studies at extremely high dose rates. Employing the TARANIS Terawatt laser at Queen's University, the effect of proton irradiation at MeV-range energies on live cells has been investigated at dose rates exceeding 10 Gy/s as a single exposure. A clonogenic assay showed consistent lethal effects on V-79 live, cells, which, even at these dose rates, appear to be in line with previously published results employing conventional sources. A Relative Biological Effectiveness (RBE) of 1.4±0.2 at 10% survival is estimated from a comparison with a 225 kVp X-ray source. © 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.

Priyanka Gupta, Pedro A. Perez-Mancera, Hemant Kocher, Andrew Nisbet, Giuseppe Schettino, Eirini Velliou (2020)A novel scaffold based hybrid multicellular model for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma – towards a better mimicry of the in vivo tumour microenvironment, In: Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology Frontiers Media

With a very low survival rate, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a deadly disease. This has been primarily attributed to – (i) its late diagnosis and (ii) its high resistance to current treatment methods. The later, specifically requires the development of robust, realistic in vitro models of PDAC, capable of accurately mimicking the in vivo tumour niche. Advancements in the field of Tissue Engineering (TE) have helped the development of such models for PDAC. Herein, we report for the first time a novel hybrid, poly- urethane (PU) scaffold based, long term, multicellular (tri-culture) model of pancreatic cancer involving cancer cells, endothelial cells and stellate cells. Recognising the importance of ECM proteins for optimal growth of different cell types, the model consists of two different zones/compartments: an inner tumour compartment consisting of cancer cells (fibronectin coated) and a surrounding stromal compartment consisting of stellate and endothelial cells (collagen I coated). Our developed novel hybrid, tri-culture model supports the proliferation of all different cell types for 35 days (5 weeks), which is the longest reported time frame in vitro. Furthermore, the hybrid model showed extensive collagen I production by the cells, mimicking desmoplasia, one of PDAC’s hallmark features. Fibril alignment of the stellate cells was observed, which attested for their activated state. All three cell types expressed various cell specific markers within the scaffolds, throughout the culture period and showed cellular migration between the two zones of the hybrid scaffold. Our novel model has great potential as a low cost tool for in vitro studies of PDAC as well as for treatment screening.

Miriam A. Barry, Mohammad Hussein, Giuseppe Schettino (2020)Evaluating the Propagation of Uncertainties in Biologically Based Treatment Planning Parameters, In: Frontiers in Oncology10 Frontiers Media

Biologically based treatment planning is a broad term used to cover any instance in radiotherapy treatment planning where some form of biological input has been used. This is wide ranging, and the simpler forms (e.g., fractionation modification/optimization) have been in use for many years. However, there is a reluctance to use more sophisticated methods that incorporate biological models either for plan evaluation purposes or for driving plan optimizations. This is due to limited data available regarding the uncertainties in these model parameters and what impact these have clinically. This work aims to address some of these issues and to explore the role that uncertainties in individual model parameters have on the overall tissue control probability (TCP)/normal tissue control probability (NTCP) calculated, those parameters that have the largest influence and situations where extra care must be taken. In order to achieve this, a software tool was developed, which can import individual clinical DVH's for analysis using a range of different TCP/NTCP models. On inputting individual model parameters, an uncertainty can be applied. Using a normally distributed random number generator, distributions of parameters can be generated, from which TCP/NTCP values can be calculated for each parameter set for the DVH in question. These represent the spread in TCP/NTCP parameters that would be observed for a simulated population of patients all being treated with that particular dose distribution. A selection of clinical DVHs was assessed using published parameters and their associated uncertainties. A range of studies was carried out to determine the impact of individual parameter uncertainties including reduction of uncertainties and assessment of what impact fractionation and dose have on these probabilities.

Additional publications