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Mladen Korbelik, PhD

Distinguished Scientist - Imaging Unit - Integrative Oncology   Rm 6-112 ▪ 675 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C., V5Z 1L3, Canada

 Current Appointments:Mladen

Distinguished Scientist - Imaging Unit, Integrative Oncology - BC Cancer Agency

Clinical Professor – Pathology and Laboratory Medicine – University of British Columbia

 Members of the lab:

Wei Zhang

Soroush Merchant

Research Interests:

Dr. Mladen Korbelik (Ph.D. Biology, 1979) has first participated in the work of B.C. Cancer Research Centre as a postdoctoral student (1980-1982), and has been continuously on scientific staff since 1987.  His main research interest focuses on host responses to tumor trauma-inflicting therapy.  Unlike cancer therapies targeting DNA (including radiotherapy and classical chemotherapy) that produce no immediate cancer cell death, treatment modalities such as hyperthermia, photodynamic therapy (PDT), cryotherapy, or sonodynamic therapy result in a rapid tumor cell killing and are experienced by the host as a localized trauma.  The insult they inflict provokes the host to launch protective actions evolved for dealing with threat to tissue integrity and homeostasis at the affected site.  This is dominated by a strong tumor-concentrated acute inflammatory reaction that can lead to a breakdown of tumor immunotolerance and development of immune response against the treated tumor.  In his research, Dr. Korbelik’s works on characterizing host responses elicited by PDT of solid tumors; in addition to inflammatory and antitumor innate and adaptive immune responses this includes the associated acute phase response and participation of hormonal and neural systems.  One of principal aims of this research is finding optimal strategies for exploiting the potentials presented by the engagement of these host responses, which has resulted in identifying immunotherapy treatments that potentiate PDT-mediated tumor cures.  One specific application of considerable interest is the development of PDT-generated cancer vaccines.  Dr. Korbelik is also interested in the development of hyperthermia using laser-treated nanoparticles and establishment of sonodynamic therapy.



  • Korbelik, M.:  Cancer vaccines generated by PDT (invited paper).  Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences Jan. 24, 2011. (Epub ahead of Print)


  • Huang, N., Wang, H., Zhao, J., Lui, H., Korbelik, M. & Zeng, H.: Single-wall carbon nanotubes assisted photothermal cancer therapy.  Animal study with a murine model of squamous cell carcinoma. Lasers Surg Med Nov;42(9):638-48, 2010.
  • Merchant, S., Huang, N. and Korbelik, M.:  Expression of complement and pentraxin proteins in acute phase response elicited by tumor photodynamic therapy: the engagement of adrenal hormones.  Int Immunopharmacol. Dec;10(12):1595-601, 2010.
  • Merchant, S., Sun, J., and Korbelik, M.: Heat shock protein 70 is acute phase reactant: response elicited by tumor photodynamic therapy.  Cell Stress Chaperones Sep 24, 2010, Epub ahead of print.


  • Separovic, D., Bielawski, J., Pierce, J.S., Merchant, S., Tarca, A.L., Ogretmen, B., Korbelik, M.:  Increased tumour dihydroceramide production after Photofrin-PDT alone and improved tumour response after the combination with the ceramide analogue LCL29.  Evidence from mouse squamous cell carcinomas.  Br. J. Cancer, 100: 626-632, 2009.
  • Cluff, G.M., Short, M.A., Lui, H., McLean, D.I., Zeng, H., Korbelik, M. and Chen, X.K.:  Comparison of connective tissue invaded by Lewis lung carcinoma to healthy connective tissue by means of micro-Raman spectroscopy.  Journal of Raman Spectroscopy 40:1087-1090, 2009.
  • Korbelik, M.: Complement upregulation in photodynamic therapy treated tumors: role of Toll-like receptor pathway and NFB.  Cancer Letters 281:232-238, 2009.
  • Korbelik, M., Merchant, S., and Huang, N.:  Exploitation of immune response-eliciting properties of hypocrellin photosensitizer SL052-based photodynamic therapy for eradication of malignant tumors.  Photochem. Photobiol., 85(6):1418-1424, 2009


  • Korbelik, M., Cecic, I., Merchant, S. and Sun, J.:  Acute phase response induction by cancer treatment with photodynamic therapy. Int J Cancer 122:1411-1417, 2008.
  •  Korbelik, M. and Cecic, I.:  Complement activation cascade and its regulation: relevance for the response of solid tumors to photodynamic therapy.  J. Photochem. Photobiol. B: Biol. 93: 53-59, 2008.


  • Stott B, Korbelik M.  Activation of complement C3, C5, and C9 genes in tumors treated by photodynamic therapy.  Cancer Immunology Immunotherapy 56(5):649-58, 2007.
  • Korbelik M, Cooper PD.  Potentiation of photodynamic therapy of cancer by complement: the effect of gamma-inulin.  Br J Cancer 96(1):67-72, 2007.
  • Cecic I, Minchinton AI, and Korbelik M.  The impact of complement activation on tumor oxygenation during photodynamic therapy.  Photochem. Photobiol. 83(5):1049-55, 2007.
  • Merchant, S., Sun, J., and Korbelik, M.: Dying cells program their expedient disposal: serum amyloid P component upregulation in vivo and in vitro induced by photodynamic therapy of cancer. (Photochemical & Photobiological , 6: 1284-1289, 2007.
  • Korbelik, M., Stott, B. and Sun, J.: Photodynamic therapy-generated vaccines: relevance of tumor cell death expression. Br. J. Cancer 97: 1381-1387, 2007.


  • Chen WR, Huang Z, Korbelik M, Nordquist RE, Liu H.  Photoimmunotherapy for cancer treatment.  J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2006;25(1-2):281-91.
  • Cecic I, Korbelik M.  Deposition of complement proteins on cells treated by photodynamic therapy in vitro.  J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2006;25(1-2):189-203.
  • Cecic I, Sun J, Korbelik M.  Role of complement anaphylatoxin C3a in photodynamic therapy-elicited engagement of host neutrophils and other immune cells.  Photochem Photobiol. 2006 Mar-Apr;82(2):558-62.
  • Korbelik M.  PDT-associated host response and its role in the therapy outcome.  Lasers Surg Med. 2006 Jun;38(5):500-8.
  • Cecic I, Stott B, Korbelik M.  Acute phase response-associated systemic neutrophil mobilization in mice bearing tumors treated by photodynamic therapy.  Int Immunopharmacol. 2006 Aug;6(8):1259-66.
  • Korbelik M, Sun J.  Photodynamic therapy-generated vaccine for cancer therapy.  Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2006 Aug;55(8):900-9.


  • Huang Z, Lui H, McLean DI, Korbelik M and Zeng H.  Raman spectroscopy in combination with background near-infrared autofluorescence enhances the in vivo assessment of malignant tissues.  Photochem. Photobiol., 81: 1219-1226, 2005.
  • Chen WR, Korbelik M, Bartels KE, Liu H, Sun J, Nordquist RE.  Enhancement of laser cancer treatment by a chitosan-derived immunoadjuvant.  Photochem Photobiol. 2005 Jan-Feb;81(1):190-5.
  • Korbelik M, Sun J, Cecic I.  Photodynamic therapy-induced cell surface expression and release of heat shock proteins: relevance for tumor response.  Cancer Res. 2005 Feb 1;65(3):1018-26.
  • Cecic I, Serrano K, Gyongyossy-Issa M, Korbelik M.  Characteristics of complement activation in mice bearing Lewis lung carcinomas treated by photodynamic therapy.  Cancer Lett. 2005 Jul 28;225(2):215-23.


  • Korbelik M, Sun J, Cecic I, Serrano K.  Adjuvant treatment for complement activation increases the effectiveness of photodynamic therapy of solid tumors.  Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2004 Aug;3(8):812-6.


  • Korbelik M, Sun J, Zeng H.  Ischaemia-reperfusion injury in photodynamic therapy-treated mouse tumours.  Br J Cancer. 2003 Mar 10;88(5):760-6.
  • Korbelik M, Sun J, Payne PW.  Activation of poly(adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase in mouse tumors treated by photodynamic therapy.  Photochem Photobiol. 2003 Oct;78(4):400-6.


  • Canti G, De Simone A, and Korbelik M.  Photodynamic therapy and the immune system in experimental oncology.  Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 1:79-80, 2002.
  • Cecic I, Parkins CS and Korbelik M.  Neutrophils as inflammatory and immune effector cells in photodynamic therapy-treated mouse SCCVII tumors.  Photochem & Photobiol. Sci. 1:690-695, 2002.
  • Zeng H, Korbelik M, McLean DI, MacAulay C, Lui H.  Monitoring photoproduct formation and photobleaching by fluorescence spectroscopy has the potential to improve PDT dosimetry with a verteporfin-like photosensitizer.  Photochem Photobiol. 2002 Apr;75(4):398-405.
  • Cecic I, Korbelik M.  Mediators of peripheral blood neutrophilia induced by photodynamic therapy of solid tumors.  Cancer Lett. 2002 Sep 8;183(1):43-51.


  • Korbelik M, Sun J, Posakony JJ.  Interaction between photodynamic therapy and BCG immunotherapy responsible for the reduced recurrence of treated mouse tumors.  Photochem Photobiol. 2001 Apr;73(4):403-9.
  • Korbelik M, Sun J.  Cancer treatment by photodynamic therapy combined with adoptive immunotherapy using genetically altered natural killer cell line.  Int J Cancer. 2001 Jul 15;93(2):269-74.
  • Bissonnette R, Zeng H, McLean DI, Korbelik M, Lui H.  Oral aminolevulinic acid induces protoporphyrin IX fluorescence in psoriatic plaques and peripheral blood cells.  Photochem Photobiol. 2001 Aug;74(2):339-45.
  • Cecic I, Parkins CS, Korbelik M.  Induction of systemic neutrophil response in mice by photodynamic therapy of solid tumors.  Photochem Photobiol. 2001 Nov;74(5):712-20.


  • Korbelik M, Parkins CS, Shibuya H, Cecic I, Stratford MR, Chaplin DJ.  Nitric oxide production by tumour tissue: impact on the response to photodynamic therapy.  Br J Cancer. 2000 Jun;82(11):1835-43.