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SEATTLE - (Jan. 20, 2010) — Radiation therapy plays an important role in the treatment of many cancers, yet despite decades of advancement in treatment delivery, significant differences exist in the way individuals and their tumors respond to radiation. This underscores the importance of biological variations in patients.

The goal of radiation therapy is to target a tumor and minimize the amount of radiation damage to normal tissues in the surrounding area. However current radiation therapy does not allow providers to customize treatment based on a patient's potentially unique biological response to therapy.

A new pilot study at Virginia Mason Medical Center, in partnership with the lab of Amanda Paulovich, MD, PhD, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is being carried out to determine if a blood test may help predict how a patient would respond to radiation therapy. This test is intended to reveal how a patient's proteins respond to DNA damage during radiation, and could lead to customizing therapy.

"If we can identify reliable biomarkers of response to radiation therapy, we could customize treatment for patients with cancer, improve outcomes and reduce side effects," said Kas Badiozamani, MD, radiation oncologist at Virginia Mason.

This is the first research to investigate the utility of these biomarkers in patients undergoing radiation therapy. If successful, this could lead to further clinical trials to advance radiation therapy and lead to better outcomes for patients.

About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a non-profit comprehensive regional health-care system in Seattle that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 440 physicians with a 336-bed acute-care hospital. Virginia Mason operates a network of clinics throughout the Puget Sound area; manages Bailey-Boushay House, a nursing residence and Chronic Care Management program for people living with HIV and AIDS; and operates Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, internationally recognized in autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason is known for applying manufacturing principles to health care to improve quality and patient safety.

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