Iwamoto Laboratory of Quantum Radiobiology
As the Laboratory of Quantum Radiobiology, we use a fundamental theory in physics to interrogate the molecular mechanisms of redox-signaling biology that mediates cellular responses to ionizing radiation (IR). IR, by expelling electrons from molecules, creates highly unstable free radicals (FR) that damage cells. The damaged cells respond by generating their own FR, not necessarily as a death knell but more as a mode of intra- and inter-cellular communications to orchestrate a consequential outcome.
Our ultimate goal is to understand and control this network of FR-mediated communications to favorably enhance radiation sensitivity of tumors or radiation resistance of normal tissues to improve cancer treatment. To this end, we apply principles of quantum mechanics to alter the reactivity of FR and therefore modulate the cellular redox-sensitive signaling pathways that could determine cell fate.
One of our major endeavors is to precisely control specific FR lifetimes using FR-species-dependent electromagnetic fields (EMF) to modulate electron spin states. Notably and non-intuitively (because it is a quantum mechanical phenomenon, after all) weak EMFs (wEMF), no stronger than that of refrigerator magnets, have significant effects on biology vis-à-vis FR reactivity. Accordingly, we are the first lab to demonstrate the profound effects of a wEMF on the molecular biology of x-irradiated cells, which present an avant-garde approach ripe for investigation and exploitation to improve radiotherapy. This makes quantum radiobiology an exciting part of the fledgling and growing field of quantum biology.
Kei Iwamoto, Ph.D., Professor
Yue Liu, Ph.D., Staff Research Associate, Lab Manager
Madhuraka Pal, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow
Makenna Thomas, Undergraduate Student
Through the decades, our multifaceted research has delved into fatty acid biology in both radiomitigation and anti-cancer therapy, radiotherapy using a CT scanner – years before anyone even heard of IGRT (image-guided radiotherapy), the molecular radiobiology/epidemiology of atomic bomb-induced cancers, the impact of a gene’s UTR (untranslated region) in radiation responses and carcinogenesis, and the importance of gain-of-function mutations in tumor suppressor genes.
Our lab continues to investigate radiation carcinogenesis, radiation protection/mitigation, and radiation therapy as different aspects of the same basic molecular phenomenon. Our projects currently include understanding the radiobiology of glutathione dynamics, photoelectric effect-mediated dose enhancement, singlet-to-triplet state interconversion effects on free radical reactivity, and mitochondrially generated reactive oxygen species. All projects are distinct but also linked through quantum radiobiological concepts that are manifested ultimately in radiosensitizing tumor tissues and simultaneously mitigating ionizing radiation effects on normal tissues. Although not limited to the following malignant pathologies, we are especially interested in improving treatment of pediatric medulloblastoma, lymphoma, and pancreatic cancer.