由 John R. Fischer
, Staff Reporter | September 09, 2019
From the September 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Researchers at the Institut Curie in Orsay, France made history in 2014 when they performed the first demonstration of flash radiotherapy, a technique that delivers large doses of radiation in a fraction of a second.
Applying short pulses of radiation to the thorax of mice at a dose rate of more than 40 Gy/s, the team examined the extent of lung fibrogenesis in the specimen for up to six months after radiation, and found that normal, healthy tissue sustained less damage, compared to that of mice irradiated at a conventional dose rate.
“We use a single dose treatment, meaning that the entire treatment is given at once to a single participant in a short sequence,” Dr. Vincent Favaudon, the developer of the technique at the Institut Curie, told HCB News.
Since then, flash demonstrations have been conducted throughout Europe and the U.S., with researchers aiming to adapt the practice for clinical use and improve the speed and safety of radiotherapy. To do this, however, requires a thorough understanding of flash, as well as answers to unanswered questions around its use and impact.
Sculpting dose and sparing tissue
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The speed at which doses are delivered during flash therapy help reduce damage incurred by healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. Treating cancer this way, whether it be a single session or multiple sessions, is expected to have a dramatic impact on patient outcomes and also hospital throughput.
"The dilemma in many cases is that the tumors are not physically separate from certain, critical normal organs. They are sort of 'weaved' in," said Dr. Billy Loo, a professor of radiation oncology at Stanford University. "Even if you're sculpting the dose very carefully, you're ultimately going to be limited in how much radiation you can apply because the normal tissues are right there. With flash, we are developing strategies both to create highly sculpted doses and deliver them super fast to maximize the sparing of normal tissues."