Very High Energy Elektrons

Over 1 million euros for new form of radiation therapy

Exploring and optimizing a potential new form of radiation therapy using very high energy electrons. That is the focus of a new project by a team from the Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, TU Delft, and Lausanne University Hospital. The team has been awarded over 1 million euros from the Open Technology Programme of the Dutch Research Council (NWO).

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Conventional photon radiation (right) compared with very high energy electron (VHEE) radiation (left) in a simulated prostate cancer patient. The tumor receives a high dose of radiation (red), but the rectum, bladder, and femoral heads also receive a lower dose (blue). With electron radiation, this dose is lower, and the high dose is delivered closer to the tumor compared to photon radiation.

The team will investigate how radiation using very high energy electrons (VHEE) can be best utilized, which tumor groups it is most effective for, and the technical requirements for the yet-to-be-built radiation devices. The research leaders are Dr. Ir. Sebastiaan Breedveld from the Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Dr. Danny Lathouwers from TU Delft, and Dr. Till Böhlen from the Lausanne University Hospital.

Radiation of tumors using very high energy electrons is a potential new form of radiation therapy for cancer patients. Compared to conventional radiation therapy with photons, this technique can lead to a substantial reduction in side effects.

‘This is because with very high energy electrons, it is possible to deliver a high dose to the tumor while administering a low dose just outside the tumor, in the healthy tissue. Additionally, it may be possible to curatively irradiate tumors that are difficult to treat, such as those located near a nerve’, explains Breedveld.

Dose in a short time

Furthermore, with electrons, it is possible to deliver the dose in a very short time. ‘Besides significantly shortening the treatment time, this allows for so-called FLASH radiation therapy, which potentially causes even less damage to healthy tissue compared to longer radiation times.’

For this project, the team is collaborating with the company Theryq and CERN. Additionally involved are Prof. Ben Heijmen, Prof. Raphaël Moeckli, Dr. Zoltán Perkó, Dr. Walter Wuensch, Prof. Remi Nout, Prof. Jean Bourhis, Prof. Matthias Guckenberger, Prof. Uwe Oelfke, and Prof. Coen Hurkmans.

Flexible heart echoes

Annemien van den Bosch and Rik Vos from the Cardiology department of Erasmus MC are participating in another project funded by the NWO Open Technology Program. This project, led by TU Delft, focuses on developing new flexible, portable echo transducer arrays and the associated algorithms to assess cardiac health by intensive yet unobtrusive cardiac monitoring.

Open Technology Programme

The Open Technology Programme of NWO provides funding for application-oriented technical-scientific research that is free and unrestricted, not hindered by disciplinary boundaries.

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