Chemoprotective Effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen Research

Hyperbaric oxygen is used routinely at William Beaumont Hospital to facilitate wound healing and improve patient recovery from a variety of clinical procedures. Hyper-baric oxygen treatment (HBOT) has been shown to be effective in the initial treatment of a variety of cancers. Some tumors are resistant to radiotherapy because they contain areas of radiation-resistant hypoxia. The term hypoxia generally describes a reduction in the oxygen content of the tumor mass, as compared with adjacent tumor regions and surrounding normal tissues. It is widely accepted that hypoxia protects tumor cells from radiation-mediated cell killing. The benefits of HBOT are believed to arise from the reoxygenation of hypoxic/necrotic regions of the tumor and a resultant increase in their radiation sensitivity.

We are investigating whether HBOT can reduce normal tissue complications produced by a variety of standard chemotherapy drugs such as Taxotere, Adriamycin, Etoposide, Ara C and Topotecan. These treatment-related side effects (e.g. sickness, nausea, myelotoxicity which reduces the ability of the patient to fight infection) often prevent the patient from completing their therapy as prescribed by the physician. We hypothesize that the HBOT will increase the oxygen tension of the normal tissues and this will enhance the immune response thereby minimizing the cytotoxic effects of the chemotherapeutic drug in this tissue.