From the radiation oncology perspective, we would love to nominate radiation as a perfect adjuvant for immunotherapy but radiation is far from a magic bullet in this regard. However, over two-thirds of patients get radiation therapy at some point during their cancer journey. With the growing exposure of patients to immunotherapy, it is critical to understand the immune activating and suppressing effects of radiation to avoid risks and identify complementary therapies to combine.
We use animal models to study these interactions with a growing interest in gastrointestinal malignancies. In pancreatic cancer, immunotherapy advances have been limited and the role of radiation is controversial. With our active involvement in developing and running clinical trials of radiation in pancreatic cancer, we aim to better understand the biological impact of radiation to capitalize on promising aspects and counteract the negative aspects of radiation.