RADIATE Background information

Radiation Innovations for Therapy and Education

Millions of people die from cancer each year. The World Health Organisation estimates there will be 27 million cases worldwide by 2030.

In Europe this disease is responsible for 20% of all deaths and is also one of the leading causes of mortality in elderly people.

With life expectancy rising, soon cancer’s economic and social cost will become unsustainable for European governments.

This calls for innovation and joint efforts in cancer prevention and treatment, to promote better health and quality of life among Europe’s people.

RADIATE intends to strengthen scientific collaborations and technological platforms to develop effective therapeutic strategies to combat cancer.

Reasearch lab

Radiation therapy

Among cancer treatment types, radiation therapy is the choice for the majority of patients and is a non-invasive option, already leading to tissue and organ preservation in the treatment of cancer in breast, larynx and eyes. Radiotherapy is also an alternative for certain types of cancer (e.g. for some forms of lung cancer) that cannot be cured through surgery.

Importantly, radiotherapy is a cost-effective treatment that accounts only for 5% of the total cancer care budget when compared with other treatment types, and a survival rate equal or greater than chemotherapy. Nevertheless, a number of patients fail to have their cancer eradicated due to metastasis or tumour regrowth.

Recent advances in radiotherapy have brought novel radiation delivery techniques and high precision imaging for better targeting, allowing escalation of the radiation dose and shorter treatment times. In spite of this, there has been no clear association between increasing dose delivery and therapeutic benefit, which depend on several factors, such as tumour radioresistance and treatment side-effects.

Moreover, the latest radiotherapy delivery techniques come with huge costs and require highly specialised staff and large facilities, complicating its implementation in hospitals.

Thus, Europe urgently needs scientists with an interdisciplinary knowledge and experience to solve problems in cancer biology.  The RADIATE network achieves this by bringing together a team of researchers from pre-eminent academic institutions, with complementary expertise as well as research and training infrastructures, dedicated to multidisciplinary training.

Radiation source

Advances in radiotherapy

Advances in radiotherapy will only be possible with the contribution from several disciplines such as molecular biology, cell biology, bioinformatics and chemistry, which can help explain and counteract the radioresistance phenomena. Currently, biological research in radiotherapy is highly under-represented and few radiotherapeutic modifying agents are being tested for clinical applications.

Investigating the biological differences between tumour and normal tissues is fundamental in understanding radiation responsiveness. RADIATE scientists explore and transform this biological potential, embracing a multidisciplinary perspective and exploiting translational studies. This network will supply a critical mass, fulfilling an unmet need in radiobiology for the training of a new generation of scientists, to use biological insights to improve the incorporation of radiation into cancer therapy.

The resulting breadth of knowledge will be key in launching novel therapeutic protocols in oncology, which are more effective, and applicable to more cancer patients. Consequently this will help to reduce the cost of cancer treatment.