About the Innovator

The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) treats about 5000 patients every year with modern radiation therapy techniques to treat cancer while minimizing side effects. The research team of 12 people optimize the treatment for individual patients by modulating the dose in space to match the variations in radiation sensitivity in the tumour. This is called dose painting. Quantitative MRI and image processing techniques are used to identify treatment-resistant parts of the cancer to guide dose painting decisions.

What is the innovation

Dose painting is a key step in personalized radiation oncology of prostate cancer. It requires software to translate multi-parametric MRI of prostate cancer into new images for guiding dose painting radiotherapy. The first image reflects the probability of cancer presence, used to derive the dose painting prescription. The second is an electron density map of the patient (MRCAT), required for dose calculations. This enables an MRI-only workflow, increasing treatment accuracy and reducing the burden for the patient. Work on this was supported in the EU-funded Dr THERAPAT project.

Out of the lab – Into the Market

Prostate cancer probability mapping, developed at NKI, is currently validated in a multicenter clinical trial. MRCAT was developed in collaboration with NKI's research team and Philips research laboratories in Hamburg. These developments fit within a coherent program of biomedical technology research, clinical trials and strategic collaboration with the healthcare industry to develop new methods for treating cancer, validating them clinically and bringing them to the market. 

Benefits of participation in the Framework Programme

The consortium assembled for the framework project combined clinical research institutes with research groups in imaging technology and industry. This enabled us to integrate all components from imaging and target definition to defining a dose prescription and dose calculation. These components, up to now, depend heavily on physician experience. Our software, demonstrating feasibility of a robust framework to generate treatment plans from multi-parametric MRI, helps them to achieve our goal of improving cure while reducing side effects of the treatment.