Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Software for Patient-Friendly Radiation Therapy - The SPARTA Research Project Commences on April 1.

X-rays can provide much more than radiography for diagnosing bone fractures or internal disease. In the form of high-energy photon beams, cancer can be treated by exposing tumors to a strong dose of targeted radiation.
This type of radiation therapy is currently one of the most important treatment methods for cancer; about half of all tumor patients are now treated with photon or particle beams. The novel, interdisciplinary SPARTA project commenced on April 1, 2013 to improve this method by using modern software technology to support tumor radiation in a more effective and patient-friendly fashion than existing methods.

When a clinician treats a tumor near a sensitive tissue structure such as nerves or organs, special ‘intensity-modulated’ radiation therapy is applied. Instead of exposing a tumor to several relatively wide and strong photon beams, many individually dosed partial beams from different directions coincide. Because these beams are targeted to overlap in the tumor, the highest dose is only attained at this location. Ideally, the surrounding healthy tissue remains only marginally affected.

In practice, however, this method is somewhat limited because a single application of such radiation has very little effect. Over a series of weeks, patients undergo about 30 treatments. During this time, the patient’s body can change because of differences in tumor size or loss or gain in body weight. These changes affect the position of the tumor and thus the target of the radiation. This increases the risk that beams partially miss the tumor and instead damage healthy tissue.

In addition, breast and abdominal tumors present a further problem. Because the patient breathes during radiation, the tumor inevitably shifts. To reach the tumor despite this motion, the clinician must select a relatively large target area, thereby damaging more healthy surrounding tissue than necessary.

This is where SPARTA comes into play. In this research project, scientists from ten different fields develop novel, adaptive, expandable software systems to support clinicians during planning and application of radiation therapy. The overarching aim of SPARTA is to make radiation therapy more efficient, safe, and effective using these novel systems. The project goals include:

• Accurately Measuring Variations
Computer-supported imaging and sensor systems should precisely measure when and how the anatomy of the patient changes both over the weeks of the treatment and during the radiation. The systems should determine the patient’s precise position and monitor patient movements such as breathing. Exact measurement of the individual variations is a requisite for optimally adapting the radiation therapy to each patient.
• Precisely Estimating Dosage
The software should compare the original radiation plan to variations that arise between or during treatment sessions, allowing clinicians to determine whether radiation has indeed reached the planned target. In addition, the program should reliably estimate the cumulative dose that the tumor has received after a certain number of treatments, allowing better judgment of sufficient tumor radiation.
• Intelligently Adapting the Radiation Plan
SPARTA is developing a program that can judiciously adapt a radiation plan to measured changes or even to expected variations between and during each patient’s treatments. How pronounced and regular are the breathing movements, and do these impact the movement of the target region? This information should be incorporated into each radiation plan before each treatment and provide increased accuracy. In addition, planning should become ‘adaptive’, capable of simple and flexible adjustment during the course of therapy in case the tumor shifts due to patient weight loss or small changes in body position. This provides increased assurance that the planned radiation dose reaches the tumor and damages as little surrounding tissue as possible.

• Analyzing the Tumor in Detail
To plan the complete radiation, patients currently undergo computer tomography. This allows doctors to determine the position of a tumor accurately, but its structure only to a limited extent. Which parts are still active and which are already necrotic? This information is important because only the active region of a tumor must be radiated, not the inactive. These details can be determined through special procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET). SPARTA researchers aim for a systematic investigation of the uses of such procedures for more precise multimodal radiation planning.

About the SPARTA Project:
SPARTA stands for “Software Platform for Adaptive Multimodal Radio and Particle Therapy with Autarkic Extendibility.” The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research with a contribution of almost eight million euro. It commences on April 1, 2013 and will run for three years. The consortium consists of ten partners, including research institutes, medical technology companies, and university hospitals.
Project Partners:
• Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing MEVIS, Bremen and Lübeck (coordinator)
• German Cancer Research Center DFKZ, Heidelberg
• Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics IWTM, Kaiserslautern
• University Hospital, Heidelberg
• Hospital of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
• Dresden University of Technology, Faculty of Medicine
• Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Center, Heidelberg
• Siemens AG, Forchheim
• MeVis Medical Solutions AG, Bremen
• Precisis AG, Heidelberg

Bianka Hofmann | Fraunhofer-Institut
Further information:

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Gentle sensors for diagnosing brain disorders
29.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

nachricht New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development
28.09.2016 | Lund University

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>