Verification of treatment plans in tumor therapy

GET_INvolved student and Summer Student take part in scientific publication


In the tumor therapy with ion beams developed by GSI as well as in other radiation therapies, so-called treatment plans are prepared prior to the treatment of individuals. Their validity is checked on models to guarantee a correct and safe procedure. The investigation of a new test option has now been published in the scientific journal "Physics in Medicine and Biology". What’s special about this: Dea Aulia Kartini and Gianmarco Camazzola, GET_INvolved participant and summer student at GSI and FAIR, are among the authors of the publication.

Treatment plans for radiotherapy are calculated with special software. So-called phantoms are used to verify the plans. They can consist simply of water or be prepared cell cultures which are irradiated under the same conditions under which the therapy is to be performed on humans. Subsequently, it is checked how many of the cells have survived where in the cultures. This allows to assess whether the treatment plan has been optimized in the best possible way. In research, they are especially relevant to test new treatment planning strategies or optimizations before they are applied in the clinical environment. Until now, phantoms from monolayered cell cultures have been used for this purpose. The new technique makes it possible to irradiate three-dimensional cell volumes.

“Instead of allowing the cells to grow flat, we place them into three-dimensional containers. For this we use multiwell plates, a standard accessory from laboratory supplies, with 96 wells — these are the small indentations that are on the plates,” explains Dea Aulia Kartini, who is in charge of the experiment. “They are first filled with a layer of a substance called Matrigel, then with an added cell and Matrigel mixture, and then sealed again with another layer of Matrigel. In this way we make sure that there really is a volume of cells inside”. Kartini, who originally comes from Indonesia and is studying in Thailand, is currently writing her PhD thesis and this is her third visit to GSI and FAIR in the framework of the GET_INvolved Programme. The program promotes international exchange for students and researchers and supports their education and career.

“Our experiments show that the new phantoms work flawlessly and could improve the verification of treatment plans in the future", Kartini adds. Further experiments with 3D phantoms are planned in the near future both at GSI and in cooperation with the Marburger Ionenstrahl-Therapiezentrum MIT.

The publication also features the name of Gianmarco Camazzola, who came to GSI and FAIR in 2019 as part of the Summer Student Program, where he spent eight weeks gaining insight into the research of the Biophysics Department. The Summer Student Program is aimed at international students before graduation and allows them to get a taste of the research at GSI and FAIR independently from the universities. During his stay, he mainly worked on software modeling for the experiments at the 3D phantoms. Currently he has also returned to the GSI/FAIR campus within the GET_INvolved Programme. The publication clearly shows the success and the importance of the student and scientific exchange programs, which give the participants an early insight and entry into the research community. (CP)

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