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The Oxygen Effect In Radiobiology Essay

3268 words - 13 pages

The oxygen effect plays a great role in the treatment and diagnosis of cancers and in imaging. As will be shown, it is a complex issue with many different facets. There is no clear, concrete evidence for even the most logical and well known theories, which have not always been as such. New evidence arises quickly and is contested just as fast, leading to great debate, but also to great revelations into the true nature of an effect as complicated as the oxygen effect in radiobiology..
A brief history of the study of the oxygen effect will give some insight into the intensity of study and the ever changing attitudes and theories surrounding it. The first acknowledged study was made by Swartz in 1912. His contribution was realized during an experiment involving a radium applicator being used upon his arm. Swartz noticed that if he pressed the applicator to his skin with increasing force, a lessened reaction occurred. His idea was that the lessened blood flow resulted in the increased resistance. After Swartz, there was Holthusen in 1921. Holthusen irradiated the eggs of Ascaris, a small intestinal roundworm and noticed that if the irradiation took place in an anoxic, or oxygen free, environment, the resistance of the eggs was increased. He hypothesized that this was due to the halting of the cell cycle in the absence of oxygen, which was not the actual cause. (Biggar & Storey, 2009) Following Holthusen’s footsteps, Petry conducted a study involving the irradiation of vegetable seeds in varying levels of oxygenation. He found a correlation between the amount of oxygen present and the degree of success of germination of the seeds. The first real study to be published in English was done by Mottram in the 1930s. Mottram studied the survival of tumor slices that had been irradiated in either anoxic or aerobic environments. His studies paved the way for Gray to develop a quantitative measurement of the developing theory of the oxygen effect in the 1950s. Gray partnered together with many notable researchers at the time, including Read and Thomlinson. A pinnacle paper put out by Gray and Thomlinson discussed the O2 levels in tumor cells that were located away from blood vessels and put forth some major implications for the oxygen effect and the role it played in tumor radioresistance to some forms of radiotherapy. (Thomlinson & Gray, 1955) (Hall & Giaccia, 2012) From this point forward, the research into the oxygen effect blossomed and diversified to such a point that any further discussion would warrant an entire survey of its own. By listing the initial hypotheses of researchers and their gradual understanding of this phenomenon, the current state of implications and hypotheses without entirely solid evidence can be appreciated and understood to be a developing field of research, even after it passes a century of study and observation.
After developing quantitative methods of describing the oxygen effect, a way of comparing the effects of varied...

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