Theresa M. Busch

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Theresa M. Busch, Ph.D.

Research Professor of Radiation Oncology
Department: Radiation Oncology
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
Radiation Biology Division
Department of Radiation Oncology
University of Pennsylvania
Smilow Center for Translational Research, Room 8-126
3400 Civic Center Blvd., Bldg. 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5156
Office: 215-573-3168
B.S. (Biophysics)
University of Scranton, 1993.
Ph.D. (Biophysics)
University of New York at Buffalo, Roswell Park Cancer Institute Division, Buffalo, NY, 1998.
Permanent link
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Description of Research Expertise

Our primary research focus is the investigation of photodynamic therapy (PDT) for the treatment of solid malignancies. In PDT, diseased tissue is illuminated by specific wavelengths of visible light after the delivery of a photosensitizer to that tissue. The light-excited photosensitizer interacts with oxygen to produce reactive oxygen species that damage the tissue and its associated stroma, including the supporting vascular network.

Our research centers on the study of biophysical limitations of treatment response to PDT. This includes the study of heterogeneities in the distributions of oxygen, photosensitizing drug, and light. Our studies have found that PDT can create widespread, severe hypoxia during illumination, even in tumor cells immediately adjacent to perfused blood vessels. Furthermore, noninvasive monitoring has shown PDT effect on tumor oxygenation and blood flow during the illumination period to be predictive of an animal’s long-term response to therapy. Such findings are extremely relevant to clinical PDT applications, where significant heterogeneity in hypoxia and photosensitizer distributions among the tumors of PDT patients will contribute to variable therapeutic outcomes. Indeed, we have documented a relationship between biochemical (PSA) response to PDT in prostate cancer patients and levels of photosensitizer drug and light energy in their prostates. Ultimately, in order to improve the clinical therapeutic index and efficacy of PDT, we aim to alter the microenvironment of tumors undergoing treatment as guided by noninvasive monitoring of their response.

Selected Publications

Cengel K, Cramer G, Busch TM. : Surgically-Induced Inflammation Impairs Outcomes Following Intraoperative Photodynamic Therapy. 2023 World Congress of the International Photodynamic Association. July 2023 Notes: oral.

Sourvanos D, Sun H, Zhu T, Dimofte A, Cengel K, Busch T, Fiorellini J. : Three-Dimensional Printing of the Human Lung Pleural Cavity Model for PDT Malignant Mesothelioma Therapy. 2023 World Congress of the International Photodynamic Association. July 2023.

Oakley E, Chamberlain S, Ivanick N, Hutson A, Busch T, Shafirstein: Photodynamic Therapy with Palliative Radiotherapy for Ablating Extrabronchial Malignant Central Airway Obstruction. American Association for Cancer Research 2023 Annual Meeting April 2023.

Velalopoulou A, Skoufos G, Verginadis I, Kim M, Tong S, Hatzigeorgiou A, Diffenderfer D, Dong L, Metz J, Koumenis C, Cengel K, Maity A, Busch TM.: A Transcriptomic Atlas of the Mouse Skin Irradiated with FLASH Proton Radiation. FLASH International Radiotherapy and Particle Delivery Conference. December 2022 Notes: oral.

Zou W, Kim H, Diffenderfer ES, Carlson DJ, Koch CJ, Xiao Y, Teo BK, Kim MM, Metz JM, Fan Y, Maity A, Koumenis C, Busch TM, Wiersma R, Cengel KA, Dong L.: A phenomenological model of proton FLASH oxygen depletion effects depending on tissue vasculature and oxygen supply. Front Oncol 12: 1004121, Nov 2022.

Velalopoulou A, Skoufos G, Verginadis I, Kim M, Tong S, Hatzigeorgiou A, Diffenderfer D, Dong L, Metz J, Koumenis C, Cengel K, Maity A, Busch TM. : Single-cell transcriptomic analysis reveals dynamic molecular changes in skin induced by FLASH Proton radiotherapy. Radiation Research October 2022.

Cramer G, Davis IV RW, Klampatsa A, Carter S, Miller J, Cengel KA, Busch TM : Surgery-Induced Immunosuppression Limits Photodynamic Therapy Efficacy for Mesothelioma. American Society for Photobiology September 2022 Notes: oral.

Carter S, Miller J, Cramer G, Yuan M, Guzman S, Putt ME, Cengel KA, Freedman GM, Busch TM: Systemic Versus Topical 5-Aminolevulinic Acid Administration for Photodynamic Therapy of Murine Mammary Tumors after Surgical Resection. American Society for Photobiology September 2022 Notes: oral.

Van Slyke AL, El Khatib M, Velapoulou A, Diffenderfer E, Shoniyozov K, Kim MM, Karagounis IV, Busch TM, Vinogradov SA, Koch CJ, Wiersma RD.: Oxygen Monitoring in Model Situations and In Vivo in Mice During Proton Irradiation at Conventional and FLASH Dose Rates. Radiat Res 198(2): 181-189, August 2022 Notes: doi: 10.1667/RADE-21-00232.1.

Nieves LM, Dong YC, Rosario-Berrios DN, Mossburg K, Hsu JC, Cramer GM, Busch TM, Maidment ADA, Cormode DP.: Renally Excretable Silver Telluride Nanoparticles as Contrast Agents for X-ray Imaging. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 14(30): 34354-34364, August 2022 Notes: doi: 10.1021/acsami.2c06190. Epub 2022 Jul 22.

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Last updated: 07/20/2023
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