Waves of radiation: a role in society
Come listen to researchers presenting their project and ask them your questions!
Thuraday 20th May 2021
How powerful X-rays are used to develop drugs and vaccines
Lately, you might have seen pictures of the coronavirus spike protein with different mutations. This protein is 5000 times smaller than the width of a strand of hair, so how can we get these details? The answer is X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy. While normal microscopes use visible light, these methods use very powerful radiation instead. To develop new drugs, X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy are important tools. In this talk, I’ll give you an overview of these methods with examples from my own research on bacterial diseases.
Senior Researcher, UiO
Protondynamic therapy: Can protons do the job of light?
Deep lying cancers like the brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are difficult to reach and practically incurable by the current standard-of-care. Even though photosensitive drugs (PSs) are used for fluorescence guided resection of GBM, photomedical treatments like photodynamic therapy (PDT) or photochemical internalisation (PCI) are limited by the depth of light penetration into tissue. Proton radiotherapy, is selective for cancer and can reach deep lying disease. Here we show the results of radical hybridisation of the principles behind PDT and proton therapy. Our hypothesis was that accelerated protons can excite the electrons of PSs, so that the latter can be activated into generating singlet oxygen and thus eliminating cancers like GBM. Indeed, we irradiated PS solutions and gels and verified the PS proton-activation, by fluorescence, i.e. radiative de-excitation of the photosensitive molecules.
Furthermore, we verified the population of PS triplet states in dry gels and finally we registered the production of singlet oxygen, either directly through its characteristic luminescence at 1270 nm or indirectly through the formation of singlet-oxygen-associated photoproducts. Following proof of principle in solutions and gels we proceeded with testing our hypothesis in GBM cell cultures: M059K, T98G and U87, by comparing the survival in cell groups ±PS (cercosporin), irradiated with various proton doses (2-20 Gy). The results revealed increased cell death with the use of PSs in M059K and T98G cells, but not in the U87 cell line.
Communicating about radiation risks – a complex story
Radiation risks are a contested topic. Radiation can be found everywhere around us: in our bodies, in the ground, from outer space, it is used in medicine and variety of industries. But for many people, radiation is associated with atomic weapons or nuclear accidents. People’s attitudes to risks from radiation are often very different from those of experts, which can cause conflicts and controversies. What really influences the way we feel about radiation risks and what does it mean for how we should be communicating about them?