A new radiation therapy technique pioneered by scientists from the University of Wollongong's Centre for Medical Radiation Physics (CMRP) has shown promise for improving treatment outcomes in patients with brain cancer.
Lead author and UOW PhD student Elette Engels said brain tumours were among the most difficult cancers to treat.
"Brain cancers require more rigorous and novel treatment strategies to overcome their radiation resistance," she said.
"This new MRT (microbeam radiation therapy) technique treats tumours with very narrow wafer-like X-ray blades to deliver very high doses of synchrotron radiation delivered in a very short time.
"This is not feasible with conventional radiotherapy X-ray machines in hospitals. Our research shows that the treatment of tumour cells is much more effective when the radiation dose is delivered using MRT.
"Our work aims to optimise this technique and personalise the entire procedure, from diagnosis to treatment, for each patient."
Working at the Australian Synchrotron facility in Melbourne, the scientists tested a technique for the treatment of high-grade brain cancer using personalised MRT, combining it with an innovative assessment of tumour dose-coverage.
The study, which included researchers from the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI), Australian Synchrotron - Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Central Coast Cancer Centre and Prince of Wales Hospital, is published in Scientific Reports.
It is the first long-term Australian MRT brain cancer survival study, and the first in the world to look at optimisation of personalised pre-clinical MRT of high-grade brain cancer.
Corresponding author Dr Moeava Tehei said that despite advances in surgical techniques, radiotherapy and chemotherapeutics, brain tumours remain difficult to remove surgically and can be resistant to radiation and drug treatments.
"A breakthrough in the treatment of brain cancer is well overdue," Dr Tehei said.
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