Dr. Brad Behnke
feature story in JCRC's 2015 Conquest magazine
Our group uses exercise as a means to alter the microenvironment of solid tumors in order to improve the efficacy of cancer treatments. Tumors contain areas of low oxygen, which makes them resistant to conventional therapies and more likely to spread. Enhancing tumor oxygenation would enhance patient prognosis and response to radiation therapy. Our data demonstrate that exercise training can greatly enhance tumor oxygenation.
We study the blood flow, oxygenation status, and growth rate of the tumor before, during, and after exercise training, as well as the overall response to cancer treatment (such as radiotherapy). We look at signaling mechanisms within the tumor vasculature that regulate nutrient delivery to the tumor, and investigate how whole-body interventions such as exercise (real or simulated) alter the vascular structure and function in a tumor, and how these may be manipulated to improve patient outcomes. Our findings could rapidly advance the therapeutic strategy of exercise to cancer patient trials.