Department of Radiation Oncology

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

Durantini AM, Mohapatra PP, Ashaque M, Zatoulovski ME, Kim MM, Cengel KA, Busch TM, Zhu TC, Greer A : Photooxidative Vulnerability to Intralipid in Photodynamic Therapy. Periodical Reports in Photochemistry of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Protti S, Raviola C (eds.). Cambridge, UK 48: 411-422, 2021.

Cengel K, Cramer G, Zhu T, Singhal S, Busch T: Maximizing intraoperative PDT efficacy: Physical and biological countermeasures against surgically induced inflammation. Photodynamic Therapy and Photodiagnosis Update Nov 2020 Notes: (oral).

Ivanick N, Oakley E, Chamberlain S, Kurenov S, Bellnier D, Hutson A, Gollnick S, Busch T, Cengel K, Shafirstein G: Interstitial PDT of inoperable malignant tumors with airway obstruction: An emerging adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy. Photodynamic Therapy and Photodiagnosis Update Nov 2020 Notes: (oral).

Velalopoulou A, Karagounis IV, Cramer G, Hagan S, Verginadis II, Goia D, Kim MM, Shoniyozov K, Diffenderfer E, Dong L, Metz J, Koumenis C, Cengel K, Maity A, Busch TM: Proton FLASH radiation reduces radiation-induced skin toxicities and inflammation compared to standard proton radiation without compromising control of sarcoma tumors. 66th Annual Meeting of the Radiation Research Society Oct 2020 Notes: (oral).

Zou W, Diffenderfer ES, Cengel KA, Kim MM, Avery S, Wiersma R, Carlson DJ, Busch TM, Koumenis C, Lin A, Metz JM, Teo BK, Dong L: Current Delivery Limitations of Proton PBS for FLASH. 66th Annual Meeting of the Radiation Research Society Oct 2020 Notes: poster.

Barsky A, Maxwell R, Marmarelis M, Singhal S, Li Y, Alley E, Haas H, Busch T, Langer C, Simone C, Cengel K: Prospective Assessment of Proton Therapy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. ASTRO 2020 Annual Meeting Oct 2020 Notes: (poster).

Cengel KA, Kim MM, Diffenderfer ES, Assenmacher CA, Karagounis I, Hagan S, Chiango J, Shoniyozov K, Dong L, Koumenis C, Maity A, Busch TM, Metz JM, Huck JL : A Pilot Study of FLASH vs Standard Dose Rate Proton Radiotherapy for Canine Osteosarcoma. 66th Annual Meeting of the Radiation Research Society Oct 2020 Notes: (poster).

Cramer GM, Moon EK, Cengel KA, Busch TM: Photodynamic Therapy and Immune Checkpoint Blockade. Photochem Photobiol. doi: 10.1111/php.13300. 96(5): 954-961, Sep 2020.

Kim H, Teo B-KK, Cengel K, Yin L, Kim M, Huang S, Wiersma R, Carlson D, Lin A, Busch T, Koumenis C, Metz JM, Dong L, Diffenderfer E, Zou W : Clustered Pencil Beam Scanning (CPBS) delivery technique for potential FLASH proton treatment. American Association of Physicists in Medicine 2020 July 2020 Notes: (poster).

Ong YH, Miller J, Yuan M, Chandra M, El Khatib M, Vinogradov SA, Putt ME, Zhu TC, Cengel KA, Yodh AG, Busch TM: Blood Flow Measurements Enable Optimization of Light Delivery for Personalized Photodynamic Therapy. Cancers (Basel) 12(6): 1584, Jun 2020 Notes: doi: 10.3390/cancers12061584.

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Last updated: 01/19/2021
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