Radiobiology and radiation therapy research

Understanding biological response to radiation and improving radiation therapy

Principal Investigator

Prof. Anne-Catherine Heuskin

UNamur, Department of physics, Physics of Matter and Radiation (PMR), Laboratory of Analysis by Nuclear Reaction (LARN)

Member of the Namur Cancer Research Pole

Research portal UNamur  |  ORCID  |  ResearchGate  |  LinkedIn

Expertise and research interests

Prof. Anne-Catherine Heuskin is a physicist with expertise in the field of radiobiology and nanotechnology.

Together with Prof. Stephane Lucas and Prof. Carinne Michiels, she set up an experienced radiobiology team, composed of physicists and biologists. The LARN laboratory possesses an Altaïs Tandetron Linear Accelerator and an X-ray irradiator, allowing to irradiate in vitro cell cultures with charged particles (protons, He+ particles, Li+ ions, carbon ion or photons). The team has also gained experience in the synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles. Their aim is to study the cellular response following nanoparticle exposure combined or not to cell irradiation. They previously shed light on mechanisms by which gold nanoparticles make tumor cells more sensitive to irradiation. Besides radiobiological experimental studies, Anne-Catherine Heuskin also works on theoretical modeling of cell response to radiation and dosimetry calculations. Ultimately, their research activities seek to optimize cancer radiation therapy, as well as to achieve a more efficient cancer treatment by combining nanotechnology and protontherapy. Anne-Catherine Heuskin is involved in European projects, such as RISE, Rotifer In SpacE, and INSPIRE, a European network that aims at sharing Proton Beam Therapy research.

Group members

PhD students: Eléonore Hardy, Shalini Iyer, Giacomo Lopopolo and Lucas Schoenauen

Research projects

  • ONGOING MetaRad: Metabolic control of different responses of human cancer cells to X-ray and proton radiotherapy. Ongoing PhD thesis by Eléonore Hardy. Under co-supervision by Prof. Anne-Catherine Heuskin, UNamur, NARILIS and Prof. Edmond Sterpin, UCLouvain, IREC. Joint ARC research program between UCLouvain and UNamur.
  • ONGOING Potentiation of proton therapy via inhibition of mitophagy and induction of oxidative stress by gold nanoparticles. Ongoing PhD thesis by Giacomo Lopopolo. Under co-supervision by Prof. Anne-Catherine Heuskin, UNamur, NARILIS (promoter) and Prof. Thierry Arnould, UNamur, NARILIS (co-promoter).
  • ONGOING FLASH effect in proton therapy: beam tracking through oxygen depletion in tissues and associated biological mechanisms. Ongoing PhD thesis by Lucas Schoenauen. Under co-supervision by Prof. Anne-Catherine Heuskin, UNamur, NARILIS (promoter) and Prof. Stéphane Lucas, UNamur, NARILIS (co-promoter).
  • ONGOING RISE: Rotifer In SpacE - Bdelloid rotifer Adineta vaga, a new eukaryotic extremophile model organism to study the impact of radiation and micro-gravity on biological processes. Collaborative research project between ULB (Prof. Karine Van Doninck), UNamur (Prof. Stéphane Lucas, Prof. Anne-Catherine Heuskin and Dr. Boris Hespeels) and SCK-CEN (Prof. Sarah Baatout and Dr. Bjorn Baselet).
  • ONGOING PROTHER-WAL: Proton Therapy Research in Wallonia. WP6 leader: Prof. Anne-Catherine Heuskin, UNamur, NARILIS.

Selected publications

Henthorn N, Sokol O, Durante M, De Marzi L, Pouzoulet F, Miszczyk J, Olko P, Brandenburg S, van Goethem MJ, Barazzuol L, Tambas M, Langendijk J, Davídková M, Vondráĉek V, Bodenstein E, Pawelke J, Lomax A, Weber D, Dasu A, Stenerlöw B, Poulsen P, Sørensen B, Grau C, Sitarz M, Heuskin AC, Lucas S, Warmenhoven J, Merchant M, Mackay R, Kirkby K. Mapping the Future of Particle Radiobiology in Europe: The INSPIRE Project. Frontiers in Physics 2020, 8, 438.

Penninckx S, Heuskin AC, Michiels C, Lucas S. Gold Nanoparticles as a Potent Radiosensitizer: A Transdisciplinary Approach from Physics to Patient. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Jul 23;12(8):E2021.

Penninckx S, Heuskin AC, Michiels C, Lucas S. Thioredoxin Reductase Activity Predicts Gold Nanoparticle Radiosensitization Effect. Nanomaterials (Basel). 2019 Feb 19;9(2).

Hespeels F, Lucas S, Tabarrant T, Scifoni E, Kraemer M, Chêne G, Strivay D, Tran HN, Heuskin AC. Experimental measurements validate the use of the binary encounter approximation model to accurately compute proton induced dose and radiolysis enhancement from gold nanoparticles. Phys Med Biol. 2019 Feb 7.