The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Radiation Research Program (RRP) is endeavoring to increase the relevance of preclinical research to improve outcomes of radiation therapy for cancer patients. These efforts include conducting symposia, workshops and educational sessions at annual meetings of professional societies, including the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, American Society of Radiation Oncology, Radiation Research Society (RRS), Radiosurgery Society, Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer and the American Association of Immunology. A symposium entitled “Radiation-Drug Combinations to Improve Clinical Outcomes and Reduce Normal Tissue Toxicities” was conducted by the NCI's RRP during the 63rd Annual Meeting of the RRS on October 16, 2017 in Cancun, Mexico. In this symposium, discussions were held to address the challenges in developing radiation-drug combinations, optimal approaches with scientific evidence to replace standard-of-care, approaches to reduce normal tissue toxicities and enhance post-treatment quality-of-life and recent advances in antibody-drug conjugates. The symposium included two broad overview talks followed by two talks illustrating examples of radiation-drug combinations under development. The overview talks identified the essential preclinical infrastructure necessary to accelerate progress in the development of evidence and important challenges in the translation of drug combinations to the clinic from the laboratory. Also addressed, in the example talks (in light of the suggested guidelines and identified challenges), were the development and translation of novel antibody drug conjugates as well as repurposing of drugs to improve efficacy and reduce normal tissue toxicities. Participation among a cross section of clinicians, scientists and scholars-in-training alike who work in this focused area highlighted the importance of continued discussions to identify and address complex challenges in this emerging area in radiation oncology.
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