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Fox Chase Cancer Center Study: Some Prostate Cancers May Be More Sensitive to Radiation Treatment

PHILADELPHIA (October 24, 2000) -- Radiation treatment for prostate cancer is more effective in tumor cells in which the DNA is structurally compact. That is the result of a new study that was presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass. on Tuesday, October 24, at 11:45 a.m.

In the study completed at Fox Chase Cancer Center, human prostate cancer cells were irradiated in tissue culture and the survival measured by clonogenic assays. The degree of compaction of the chromatin was chemically altered by okadaic acid (OA), fostriecin (FC) and tricostatin A (TSA). Both electron microscopy and fluorescence confocal microscopy were used to measure the compaction of the chromatin in interphase cells.

Microscopy examination of irradiated drug-treated cells showed a significant increase in molecular compaction. Radiation survival studies of the tumor cells after adding FC and TSA show that the cells were significantly radiosensitized and thus were more susceptible to irradiation.

"These data suggest that there is a direct correlation between irradiation and the compaction status of chromatin in tumor cells," explained Jim Wurzer, M.D., the author of the study. "In addition, information from these data may allow physicians to examine a biopsy specimen and predict the radiosensitivity of cells in individual cancers. In the future, we may be able to use chemical agents to manipulate the cells in tumors to make them more sensitive to treatment."

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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