Project at Limerick's university could cut risk of error in cancer cases

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Email:

fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Project at Limerick's university could cut the risk error in cancer cases

Principal investigator, Dr Sinéad O’Keeffe

THE RISK of error in the treatment of prostate and gynaecological cancers could be dramatically reduced, thanks to a new project being led by researchers at University of Limerick. 

The Origin project aims bring together leaders from academia and industry to develop a new multi-point optical fibre based dose-monitoring system for both low dose rate and high dose rate brachytherapy, with novel algorithms to provide 3D dose imaging with source localisation capability.

Brachytherapy is a form of radiotherapy where radiation is administered internally.

The project has just been awarded grant funding of almost €5m from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, of which UL has received close to €1m.

Principal investigator, Dr Sinéad O’Keeffe said the project has the potential to reduce overall risk of treatment error by 55%.

Correct placement of the radiation source is vital to ensure adequate radiation to the target area (tumour), while ensuring minimum exposure to nearby critical organs, such as, in the case of prostate and gynaecological cancers, the bladder, urethra and rectal wall, a UL spokesperson said. 

The most significant feature of an optical fibre dosimeter is that the dose information is transmitted using optical signals as opposed to electrical signals and that these optical signals can be remotely collected. This ensures the utmost safety for the patient and medical staff in conducting inpatient in-vivo procedure. 

“The optical fibre radiation dosimeters will be further optimised for improved optical signal collection efficiency, higher signal-to-noise ratio and repeatable high volume fabrication,” explained Dr O’Keeffe, adding that Europe will be at the forefront in this area of medical science.