Meet the Experts
Dr Karl Butterworth
I am a Radiation Biologist at the PGJCCR and Cahir of the Advanced Radiotherapy Group. My work focusses on preclinical and translational research and aims to develop new approaches to optimising radiotherapy and improving outcomes for cancer patients.
Radiotherapy has been used in the treatment of cancer for more than 120 years and its use continues to grow due to continuous improvements in the way in which patients are imaged and treated with radiation. Modern radiotherapy offers unparalleled abilities to delineate tumour volumes, conform dose and minimise normal tissue complications, however, there are still major opportunities to continue optimising treatments.
My lab aims to realise the full potential of radiotherapy treatments by combining targeted drugs with the latest radiotherapy technologies. As part of this program, we have established a state-of-the-art preclinical radiotherapy infrastructure at the PGJCCR using image-guided radiotherapy and the emerging technology of FLASH radiotherapy. This approach delivers much higher dose rates than are currently used in the clinic and could benefit patients by reducing unwanted side effects because it delivers the same amount of radiation in a much shorter space of time, making it less likely to affect healthy cells.
Members of the radiation biology research group (L-R; Karl Butterworth, Francisco Liberal, Kevin Prise, Victoria Dunne, Kathryn Brown, John O’Connor, Shannon Thompson, Lydia Gardner & Stephen McMahon.
Cardiac toxicity remains a major problem in patients receiving treatment for thoracic tumours so we are looking at clear opportunities for improvements - our lab uses a range of preclinical models that can thoroughly characterise the effects of radiation in the heart. In particular, we have developed a novel model of cardiac toxicity that mimics clinical responses observed in lung cancer patients, which was recently reported in this study. We are currently using this to investigate drugs aimed at protecting against injury that results from treatment with radiation.
Our work aims to continue to deliver impactful studies that could improve the lives of patients being treated with radiotherapy. I’m very proud to work as part of a multidisciplinary team within the Centre that spans biology, physics and radiation oncology.