Research kills cancer
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have recruited their first patients onto the VoxTox clinical study - an exciting project to test computer programmes that track how organs move between radiotherapy sessions to minimise any possible damage to healthy tissue.
The technology has previously been used by the Cavendish Laboratory as part of their work with CERN – the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.
Radiotherapists, physicists and engineers are working together to try and improve treatment for cancer patients. And this week they begin recruiting up to 1500 patients with three different tumour types – prostate cancer, head and neck cancers and cancers of the central nervous system – to help refine the software and test whether it could help limit damage to healthy tissue.
Research shows that organs like the prostate can move by up to two centimetres between radiotherapy sessions, resulting in damage to the surrounding healthy tissues that can result in lasting side effects. It’s hoped the new software will help limit this, by providing a clearer picture of exactly how much radiation is reaching the healthy tissues.
Chief investigator Professor Neil Burnet, a radiotherapy expert, said: “The new software we’re developing will help tailor radiotherapy to the individual, minimising the side effects patients experience after treatment.”
Dr David Scott, Cancer Research UK’s director of science funding, said: “This is a great example of how drawing on scientists from different disciplines – in this case particle physics and engineering – can bring about unparalleled progress in cancer treatment.”