They will create technology that will increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy for cancer and other diseases

Teacher. Marek Maryański is the creator of one of the most innovative methods of imaging the 3D dose distribution of ionizing radiation in gel phantoms, which can be used, for example, in radiotherapy of neoplastic diseases. Currently, together with a team of scientists and students from the Gdańsk University of Technology, he is working on methodology and technology to improve the effectiveness of hadronic radiation therapy. The goal of the research is to develop new solutions for oncology clinics around the world.

– The success of next-generation radiotherapy, which will increasingly use protons and heavier ionizing particles, with greater biological efficacy than the X or gamma photons most commonly used today, depends largely on the ability quickly and accurately measure spatial distributions of doses and other relevant parameters. There is therefore a need, and this is the goal of our research, to develop a new type of gel phantom dosimeters (simulating human tissues), taking into account the differentiation according to the type of radiation and the type of tissue, for example the brain, muscle, lung – says Dr. Marek Maryański, prof. GUT of the Institute of Nanotechnology and Materials Science of the Faculty of Technical Physics and Applied Mathematics of GUT, adding that the preliminary results of the research give hope that the method of verifying the accuracy of irradiation, which his team is working on, has a very good chance of success and will be used in clinics around the world.

– Already last year, together with clinical partners, we published test evidence showing that our method can detect “dose cloud” shift errors of up to 0.5 mm. Such precision is of particular importance, for example, in tumor metastases in the brain, where the changes can be very small, numerous and scattered. It is enough to make an error of one millimeter and the change is only partially irradiated, and at the same time we damage healthy tissues, which can be, for example, the optic nerve, the brainstem or other critical organs – emphasizes prof. Maryansky.

Students study the properties of new gel dosimeters

The project (under the IDUB RADIUM program) involves medical physics graduate students in the field of biomedical engineering, coordinated by Dr. Brygida Mielewska, prof. PG, vice-dean of education at WFTiMS.

Marta Cichacka models and studies the nanostructural mechanisms of the radiochromic response of gel dosimeters under the influence of radiation (samples are to be irradiated in summer with, among other things, helium and carbon ion beams at the University of Heidelberg and with neutrons at the National Center for Nuclear Research in Świerk). Sylwia Szczepańska analyzes the accuracy of the method of measuring the most important dosimetric parameters in proton therapy (the team cooperates in this field with the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow and with the main proton therapy centers in the world). Julia Leszczyńska, on the other hand, analyzes possible methods to shorten the scanning time of irradiated gels in a laser tomograph, which is currently under construction in the department’s laboratory.

– The tomograph we are building is quite accurate, but still too slow. Scanning a sphere the size of a human head with a resolution of about 1 mm takes about 45 minutes. The ambitious goal is to reduce this time to 2-5 minutes, which is of great importance if we plan to introduce the device into clinics – emphasizes Prof. Maryansky.

In turn, students Marta Cichacka, Julia Krzemińska, Anna Kusznerczuk and Klaudia Prusik (as part of the TECHNETIUM scholarship) will study the physical properties of the dosimeter, in search of answers to critical questions for applications, for example concerning the storage conditions, sensitivity, optical and mechanical properties.

In addition, (as part of the PLUTONIUM grant whose candidate was Pr Mielewska), a group of 15 students from the BioPhoton research club will participate in the initial integration of the entire measurement system, made up of gel phantoms dosimetry, a laser tomograph and scanning control software, reconstructing a 3D image, comparing the measurement data with a treatment plan and generating a concise final report for medical physicists responsible for patient irradiation accuracy in radiation oncology clinics.

Read also: MEiN co-funding for the student project “Innovations in three-dimensional gel dosimetry for proton radiotherapy of neoplastic diseases”

Cooperation with major world centers

It is planned (within the framework of the AURUM grant) to create an international consortium (Poland, USA, Belgium) focused on two trends in modern proton therapy: FLASH therapy and ARC-proton therapy.

The first is a therapy which makes it possible to precisely deliver the entire therapeutic dose in an extremely short time, of the order of 0.1 sec. The PG research team cooperates in the field of this technique with the pioneering center of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (USA).

– The second technique, ARC-proton therapy, is the use of a precisely controlled rotation of the source of the radiation beam around the tumor area in order to best adapt the “dose cloud” to the shape of the tumor. the neoplastic lesion. It is an experimental method in proton radiotherapy and the only hospital in the world where a prototype of the device works is the William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan (USA), with which we cooperate. We recently sent the first samples there for irradiation – says prof. Maryansky.

The third partner site is the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Belgium, which is adjacent to and works in close collaboration with Ion Beam Applications (IBA), a pioneer and world leader in the production of cyclotrons for proton therapy.

The team of prof. Maryański also cooperates with national clinical partners: the Department of Medical Physics of the Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy of the University Clinical Center in Gdańsk, the Oncology Center in Bydgoszcz and the only proton therapy clinic in Poland at the Institute of Physics nuclear power in Poland. Bronowice Academy of Sciences near Krakow.

Assistants to Prof. Maryański in the project are doctoral students M.Sc. Marta Marszewska (medical physics) and MSc. Jakub Czubek (nanotechnology). In the analysis of millions of measurement data, the research team is supported by mathematicians from the department.

From USA to Gdańsk

Teacher. Marek Maryański is the creator of one of the most innovative methods for imaging 3D dose distributions ionizing radiation in polymer gels simulating human tissue in terms of elemental composition and density. The method of laser tomography of transparent gel phantoms (representing a part of the patient’s body), the color and density of which are subject to local changes, being a measure of the absorbed radiation dose, can be used, among others. in checking exposure accuracy.

Teacher. Maryański returned to Gdańsk University of Technology (he graduated from GUT) under the National Agency for Academic Exchange’s five-year “Polish Returns” program after more than 30 years of research and development in the United States. United. Earlier, incl. he taught at Yale University and was associate professor of radiation oncology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. The scientific purpose of the stay of prof. Maryański at GUT is to complete the development of 3D HD dosimetry technology for clinical applications in hadron radiation therapy. The research plan carried out under the Polish return program is consistent with the projects described above from IDUB grants.

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