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New microbeam emitter has potential to bring promising form of radiation therapy into clinical use

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Posted October 31, 2013
Promising new therapy in a smaller package
Microbeam radiation therapy doses the area with thin parallel planes of radiation, up to a few hundred microns in width, creating a striped pattern of irradiation across the tumor.
Microbeam radiation therapy (MRT) provides tremendous promise for cancer patients through its ability to destroy tumor cells while protecting surrounding healthy tissue. Yet research into its clinical use has been limited by the sheer size of the technology required to generate the beams. Until now, administering MRT required massive electron accelerators known as synchrotrons. But with a new microbeam emitter developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the technology has been scaled down, opening the doors for clinical research.

 

In a study published online by Applied Physics Letters, a multidisciplinary team led by Physics Professor Otto Zhou, PhD; Radiation Oncology Associate Professor X. Sha Chang, PhD; and Physics Professor Jianping Lu, PhD, built a device using carbon nanotube-based x-ray source array technology developed at UNC that can generate microbeam radiation with similar characteristics as the beams generated by synchrotron radiation. Researchers from Applied Sciences and Radiology at UNC also participated in this study.

Zhou, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, points to several studies that have shown that microbeam radiation destroyed tumors and increased survival by as much as a factor of ten in brain tumor bearing animals treated with the technique. While the potential of the technology has been proven, the massive infrastructure needed to undertake the studies has prevented research from being researched for clinical use.

“The innovation here, what we have done at the university, is to build equipment that is compact and can be potentially used in a hospital and achieve similar therapeutic value. The fact that the microbeam can deliver the radiation effect is known, the experiments have been done, but the use of the synchrotron-based equipment is not practical,” said Zhou.

Read more at: Phys.org

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