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U.S. National Institutes of Health
Last Updated: 10/01/12

Molecular Radiation Therapeutics Branch (MRTB)

The MRTB is an RRP in-house laboratory program that serves as a focal point for collaborations with the Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP) and Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP) in DCTD, investigators in the Radiation Biology and Radiation Oncology Branches in the Center for Cancer Research (CCR), and university and industry collaborators specifically addressing research and development needs in combined modality therapy using radiation.

The MRTB also collaborates actively with the small animal imaging program (SAIP) of Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) to utilize various non-invasive imaging modalities to assess tumors' response to investigational agents plus ionizing radiation; Biological Testing Branch (BTB), Screening Technologies Branch (STB) of Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP) to further develop animal models that can be used in the fields of radiation biology and radiation oncology, and identify potential radiation modifiers from the initial screening phase.

The MRTB plans to collaborate with Advanced Technology Program (ATP) to develop biomarkers that can be used during the combined radiotherapy; Medical Countermeasures Against radiological and Nuclear Threats in NIAID and AFFRI in DoD to further develop radioprotectors.

Through these efforts, the MRTB stimulates development of radiation modifiers for tumor sensitization and normal tissue protection for radiotherapy improvement, optimizes radiomodifiers and assays to better guide clinical trial designs, identifies putative radioresponsive targets, and studies mechanisms of actions of radiomodifiers. MRTB has undergone a major expansion on the NCI-Frederick campus, in proximity with DTP drug development and molecular imaging in DCTD and CCR. The MRTB will also play a major role in developing radiosensitizers as part of the recently initiated NCI Experimental Therapeutics Program (NExT).

Capabilities: the current capabilities of the MRTB laboratory at NCI/Frederick include:

  • Testing of anticancer agents with ionizing radiation using an in vitro clonogenic assay in various human cancer and normal cell lines
  • Evaluating potential radiation modifiers using in vivo xenograft or orthotopic mouse models
  • Determine mechanisms of action of potential radiation modifiers using a variety of molecular and biochemical approaches

Plans for drug development and serving as a national resource: The experimental paths for drug evaluation are shown below. These are designed to be efficient in throughput, yet stringent enough to have good predictive accuracy of an agent's eventual clinical utility. The MRTB will also serve radiation biology and radiation oncology research communities by developing and disseminating optimized in vitro and in vivo assays (such as in vitro clonogenic assays and animal studies).

Selection of Molecular Targeted Agents as potential Radiation Sensitizers based on mechanisms of action