Free Radical Cancer Biology Program

Program Leader: Douglas R. Spitz, PhD, Professor, Radiation Oncology
Program Co-Leader: Frederick E. Domann, Jr., PhD, Professor, Radiation Oncology

For many years it has been recognized that many agents used to treat cancer (i.e., radiation and chemotherapy agents) cause oxidative stress that contributes to the mechanism by which they kill cancer cells as well as damage normal tissues. Recently, it is becoming increasingly clear that metabolic oxidation/reduction (redox) reactions are also altered in cancer vs. normal cells. The current consensus is that cancer cells may exist in a chronic state of metabolic oxidative stress that may represent a significant underlying mechanism contributing to malignancy. A unifying goal of the investigators in the Free Radical Cancer Biology Program is to utilize a comprehensive understanding of redox biology to develop novel biochemical rationales for improving cancer therapy taking advantage fundamental differences in oxidative metabolism between cancer vs. normal cells.

The researchers in the Free Radical Cancer Biology Program (FRCBP) focus on studying the biological consequences of inherent differences in redox metabolism between cancer vs. normal cells to determine the role that redox reactions play in cancer phenotypic changes relevant to cell growth, differentiation, signal transduction, metastasis, functional molecular imaging, and cancer therapy. A unifying goal of the program is to utilize a comprehensive basic science understanding of cancer cell redox biology to develop novel biochemical rationales for improving cancer therapy. Three overlapping themes exist within the program.

Theme 1: Understanding the role of redox biochemistry in regulation of genetic and epigenetic gene expression pathways relevant to cancer biology. Within this theme are focus groups exploring redox and gene expression globally, as well as gene expression of key redox molecules such as glutathione, thioredoxin, SOD, and AP2.

Theme 2: Understanding the role of redox regulation in cell biology. Within this theme are focus groups exploring the effects of intracellular redox environmental changes on the cell cycle, and on invasion and metastasis.

Theme 3: Exploring the role of oxidative stress in cancer therapy outcomes. Within this theme are focus groups exploring the role of manipulating oxidative stress to improve cancer therapy as well as using imaging of oxidative metabolism as an approach to monitor and guide therapy.

Members of the Free Radical Cancer Biology Program

Research Program Membership Guidelines