Australian scientists have trialled in rats a new radiation therapy technique that uses ultra-fine X-rays to target brain cancer cells with precision.
Working at the Australian Synchrotron, a team from the University of Wollongong combined personalised microbeam radiation therapy (MRT) with what they describe as an innovative assessment of tumour dose-coverage.
It is, they say, the first long-term study to look at optimisation of personalised pre-clinical MRT of high-grade brain cancer.
And while more research is needed before human trials can begin, they believe the evidence to date suggests the techniques are transferable.
The results and methods, which are described in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports, investigated MRT from multiple points of view, including radiation and medical physics, radiobiology, diagnostic imaging and preclinical survival.
Lead author Elette Engels and colleagues used CT scans to map individual brain tumours in rats, then MRT to deliver high doses to the cancer cells. The synchrotron is able to produce much more powerful X-rays than conventional hospital X-ray machines.
The treated rats survived for longer than others with the same aggressive brain tumours. No long-term adverse effects were observed, and there was no noticeable decline in cognition, vision, mobility or behaviour in the treated rats.
“A single dose of this personalised synchrotron MRT treatment could be more effective than multiple radiation treatments as they are delivered now,” says Engels. “Waiting times and toxic dosage could be eliminated if this technology was available in hospitals.”
Current radiation therapy for a brain tumour typically involves daily treatments over several weeks with daily radiation treatments.
Treating brain cancers in children and young adults is particularly difficult. Over the past 30 years, outcomes have remained at a standstill, the researchers say.
The study also involved researchers from the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Central Coast Cancer Centre and Prince of Wales Hospital.
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