WE-H-BRA-06: Experimental Investigation of RBE for Lung Cancer Cell Lines as a Function of Dose and LET in Proton, Helium and Carbon Beams




Investigate and quantify the effect of dose and LET on the RBE of protons, helium and carbon ions.


High throughput, high accuracy experimental setups were custom designed to investigate the Relative Biological Effectiveness (RBE) dependence on the dose and Linear Energy Transfer (LET) values for proton, helium and carbon ion beams. The experiment was conducted at the HIT facility in collaboration with the DKFZ in Heidelberg/Germany. Clonogenic assays of two human lung cancer cell lines, H460 and H1437, were investigated in this study. γH2AX foci staining on the H460 cell line was also undertaken to facilitate the study of differential DNA double-strand break induction and repair between low-design available at the HIT facility. Specific points along the Bragg curve corresponding to well-defined doses and LET values were chosen by appropriate selection of the pre-absorber thicknesses. With a setup design for horizontal beam lines we were able to minimize ion scattering in the cell plate, resulting in narrower energy spectra and hence LET distributions in the Bragg peak and in the distal falloff regions, compared to the earlier experiments.


Approximately 16,000 samples of cancer cells were irradiated during 23 hours of beam time. The preliminary results of the survival curves for both cell lines show a distinct dependence on LET for a given dose with decreased survival fractions at increasing LET values, encountered at the Bragg peak and in the distal falloff.


Our preliminary findings are indicative of the importance of novel variable-RBE models for proton therapy and provide insight into the RBE of heavy ions for possible future heavy ion therapy facilities in the US.

Funding support: SINF 2015/16