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.
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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

Chowdhury P, Velalopoulou A, Verginadis II, Morcos G, Loo PE, Kim MM, Motlagh SAO, Shoniyozov K, Diffenderfer ES, Ocampo EA, Putt M, Assenmacher CA, Radaelli E, Lu J, Qin L, Liu H, Leli NM, Girdhani S, Denef N, Vander Stappen F, Cengel KA, Busch TM, Metz JM, Dong L, Lin A, Koumenis C. : Proton FLASH radiotherapy ameliorates radiation-induced salivary gland dysfunction and oral mucositis and increases survival in a mouse model of head and neck cancer. Mol Cancer Ther. 9, April 2024 Notes: doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-23-0663. Epub ahead of print.

Cengel KA, Kim MM, Diffenderfer ES, Busch TM. : FLASH Radiotherapy: What Can FLASH's Ultra High Dose Rate Offer to the Treatment of Patients With Sarcoma? Semin Radiat Oncol. 34: 2, Apr 2024 Notes: 218-228. doi: 10.1016/j.semradonc.2024.02.001.

Sourvanos D, Sun H, Zhu TC, Dimofte A, Byrd B, Busch TM, Cengel KA, Neiva R, Fiorellini JP. : Three-dimensional printing of the human lung pleural cavity model for PDT malignant mesothelioma. Photodiagnosis Photodyn Ther. 10(46): 104014, Feb 2024 Notes: . doi: 10.1016/j.pdpdt.2024.104015. Epub ahead of print.

Sun H, Ong Y, Yang W, Sourvanos D, Dimofte A, Busch TM, Singhal S, Cengel KA, Zhu TC. : Clinical PDT dose dosimetry for pleural Photofrin-mediated photodynamic therapy. J Biomed Opt 29: 1, Jan 2024 Notes: 018001. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.29.1.018001. Epub 2024 Jan 13.

Tian Y, Carrillo-Malani N, Feng K, Miller J, Busch TM, Sundaram KM, Cheng Z, Amirshaghaghi A, Tsourkas A. : Theranostic Phthalocyanine and Naphthalocyanine Nanoparticles for Photoacoustic Imaging and Photothermal Therapy of Tumors. Nanotheranostics 1(8): 100-111, Jan 2024 Notes: doi: 10.7150/ntno.88892.

Sun H, Yang W, Ong Y, Busch TM, Zhu TC: Fractionated Photofrin-Mediated Photodynamic Therapy Significantly Improves Long-Term Survival. Cancers (Basel) 1(15): 5682, December 2023 Notes: doi: 10.1158/2767-9764.CRC-22-0494.

Davis RW 4th, Klampatsa A, Cramer GM, Kim MM, Miller JM, Yuan M, Houser C, Snyder E, Putt M, Vinogradov SA, Albelda SM, Cengel KA, Busch TM: Surgical Inflammation Alters Immune Response to Intraoperative Photodynamic Therapy. Cancer Res Commun. 11(3(9)): 1810-18-22, September 2023 Notes: doi: 10.1158/2767-9764.CRC-22-0494.

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.

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Last updated: 07/05/2024
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