Dosage mapping tracks cancer radiotherapy more closely

A non-invasive system being developed by EU-funded researchers could make radiotherapy a safer and more-effective treatment for cancer patients by creating a visual dosage map of the tumour and the surrounding healthy tissue.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 11 March 2020  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
European Innovation Council (EIC) pilotEIC Pathfinder Pilot
Health & life sciencesBiotechnology  |  Drugs & drug processes  |  Major diseases  |  Medical research
Industrial researchIndustrial processes & robotics  |  Nanotechnology
NanotechnologyNanomedicine
Research policyHorizon 2020
Special CollectionsCancer
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Belgium  |  Germany  |  Italy  |  Netherlands
Add to PDF "basket"

Dosage mapping tracks cancer radiotherapy more closely

Image

© Tyler Olson #33854941 source: stock.adobe.com 2020

Radiotherapy using x-rays is a widely used and effective treatment for killing tumours, and half of all cancer patients receive this treatment. Directing an x-ray beam at the tumour causes DNA damage and induces cell death. However, healthy tissue nearby can also be damaged – especially when patients are poorly positioned, or there are inaccuracies in treatment delivery.

Radiotherapy’s full potential is being limited by the lack of a system capable of providing visual feedback on the radiation dosage delivered.

The EU-funded AMPHORA project is developing non-invasive ultrasound technology that measures the amount of radiation delivered to the tumour and the healthy surrounding tissues. This approach, known as in-situ dosimetry, could help improve patient safety during treatment.

At the project’s outset, the AMPHORA team identified prostate cancer – the second most common cancer in men – as the most suitable target application. They have been working with clinical experts to fully understand the challenges associated with ultrasound imaging of the prostate and using that insight to underpin the prototype system’s design.

‘This technology will provide immediate feedback to radiotherapists about the quantity and location of radiation given to the patient, which means there is less room for treatment error and a lower risk of damaging healthy tissue,’ says project coordinator Jan D’hooge of KU Leuven in Belgium. ‘The system aims to increase the accuracy of radiation therapy, which will directly impact on the quality of treatment experienced by the patient.’

Unique nano-droplet technology

AMPHORA’s primary work focused on developing ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) to accurately sense radiation dosages.

By mid-2019, AMPHORA researchers at Tor Vergata University had developed UCAs that could be injected into the bloodstream in order to reach the tumour and surrounding tissues.

They recently demonstrated that these minute liquid droplets – just half of a thousandth of a millimetre across – evaporate upon exposure to radiation to form microscopic bubbles that light up in an ultrasound image. Thus, the number of bubbles seen in the ultrasound scan relates to the quantity of radiation delivered to the tissue. In this way, an accurate ‘dose map’ is formed.

The ultrasound readout system is being designed to minimise the invasiveness of the procedure and to prevent interference with the radiation beam during treatment. Two bespoke ultrasound probes are being manufactured by project partners at the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering. These new probes will be capable of 3D imaging and therefore dose mapping using state-of-the-art instrumentation to cope with the high data throughput.

From x-rays to proton beams

The system is still at a low-technology readiness level, so it has yet to be commercialised. However, several partners in the consortium are investigating opportunities to adapt it to other applications.

‘Alternative cancer treatments to radiotherapy, such as proton-beam therapy, can deliver a higher concentration of radiation, thereby increasing the potential risk to patients due to imprecision in positional accuracy,’ says D’hooge. ‘We’re now also investigating the application of AMPHORA’s droplet technology to proton-beam therapy, which has been the focus of our second key research output, showing very positive results.’

Project details

  • Project acronym: AMPHORA
  • Participants: Belgium (Coordinator), Italy, Netherlands, Germany
  • Project N°: 766456
  • Total costs: € 3 932 775
  • EU contribution: € 3 932 775
  • Duration: November 2017 to October 2021

See also

 

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected




loading
Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project website
Project details