Monica Olcina was born and raised in Spain.
Reducing side effects without compromising efficacy is still a major challenge in cancer treatment. Radiotherapy is one of the most effective ways to kill cancer cells, unfortunately, healthy tissues are also damaged by this form of treatment, despite technical advances in radiotherapy delivery. Gastrointestinal tract tissues, such as the intestine, are often in the irradiation field when a number of cancers are treated and are very susceptible to radiation-induced damage giving rise to common side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea. To improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy we would like to identify ways of either protecting the healthy tissue or increasing the number of cancer cells killed by radiation. We hypothesize that we can achieve these aims by targeting (with drugs) a component of the immune system known as the complement.
One area where improving radiotherapy could be particularly useful is in treating metastatic ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer typically metastasizes within the abdominal cavity.
University of Zürich
UZH Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow
CRI Irvington Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Oxford
PhD, Radiation Biology/Radiobiology
University of Oxford
Master of Science
The University of Manchester, UK
Master of Pharmacy
Radiotherapy was previously tried for the treatment of metastatic ovarian cancer; however, concerns over unacceptable radiation-induced toxicity limited its widespread use. We are investigating whether; using drugs targeting the complement system, can result in elimination of ovarian cancer from the abdominal cavity without causing unacceptable radiation-induced side effects.
Furthermore, we have found that in cancers the complement system is widely dysregulated. In fact cancer cells do not just express high levels complement proteins but mutations in complement genes are also found in patients. Importantly, high expression of certain complement proteins (such as C5aR1) as well as certain complement mutations are associated with decreased chances of cancer patient survival. We are very interested in understanding why changes in complement regulation in tumors are associated with worse patient outcome and how we can manipulate this pathway to improve patient survival outcomes.
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