CWI launches a research project with the Academic Medical Center (AMC) and the company Elekta Brachytherapy to improve the ICT that is used in radiotherapy for cancer patients. In the next years, researchers of these organizations will investigate the improvement of medical software and instruments that are used for internal radiation. The project ‘ICT-based Innovations in the Battle against Cancer’ is expected to be completed in 2020.
Internal radiotherapy or brachytherapy is a widely used form of cancer therapy where radiation sources are placed next to the tumour using hollow needles or catheters. The precise placement and dose of the sources is essential: inside the tumour the radiation needs to be as high as possible, but on the outside it has to be minimal to prevent damage to healthy tissue. To realize this, hospitals use special software that computes a radiation plan based on images from 3D scans of the tumour.
According to project leader Dr. Peter Bosman (CWI), there is plenty of room for improvement: “It is very hard for the current systems to construct a radiation plan in collaboration with the therapist that optimizes the trade-off between desired effects and all possible side effects. In this project we want to apply the most advanced developments in fundamental computer science and artificial intelligence to this particular problem. The new system should be able to present the therapist with various optimized radiation plans, providing direct insight in all possible options. This allows him or her to make an informed decision, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life of cancer patients.
The researchers will also investigate the possibility to use 3D printing to develop patient-specific instruments for the placement of the radiation sources. Constructing and carrying out radiation plans is now heavily dependent on the fixed size and shape of the available needles and catheters. Using 3D print technology, it is possible to print a customized instrument for each treatment, allowing for a much more precise positioning of radiation sources. This will lead to higher efficiency and less side effects.
This project is a cooperation between fundamental ICT knowledge (CWI), extensive practical experience with internal radiotherapy (AMC) and the biggest manufacturer world-wide for brachytherapy (Elekta). It is financed through the Innovative Public-Private Partnerships in ICT (IPPSI) of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).
Medical informatics at CWI