Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that start off in one or both lungs.(Shutterstock)
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that start off in one or both lungs.(Shutterstock)

Scientists develop lung motion tool to aid breathing in cancer patients

The cost-effective 3D platform developed indigenously with the help of Department of Science and Technology is awaiting final tests at Lucknow’s SGPGIMS.
By | Edited by Avik Roy, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUL 19, 2021 06:13 PM IST

The medical fraternity in India may soon have the facility to simulate the lung motion of cancer patients to help deliver focused radiation in the upper abdomen or thoracic region.

A group of Indian scientists have developed a novel and inexpensive 3D robotic motion phantom that can reproduce the lung motion of a human during breathing.

Breathing motion is a hurdle for delivering focused radiation dose to the cancer tumour attached to upper abdomen area. The motion exposes an area larger than the tumour to radiation during cancer treatment, thus affecting tissues surrounding the targeted tumour.

A focused radiation for a patient could be customised by simulating the lung movement of the particular patient and then orienting the delivery of the radiation so that it can be effective with minimal dosage. Before this is done on a human, its effectiveness needs to be checked on a robotic phantom.

Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur professor Ashish Dutta along with professor KJ Maria Das from Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), Lucknow developed the programmable robotic motion the platform for the quality assurance of respiratory motion management techniques in radiation therapy.

The technology developed with support from the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies programme of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and aligned with the ‘Make in India’ initiative is currently under final testing in Lucknow’s SGPGIMS.

The phantom is part of a platform not only emulates the human lung motion as a patient is breathing but can also be used to check if the radiation is being correctly focussed on a moving target. The phantom is placed inside a CT scanner on the bed in place of the human, and it emulates human lung motion as it is irradiated during therapy.

Recent technological development led to state-of-the-art motion management techniques, such as gating and tracking. Though there is incremental development in radiation therapy delivery of respiratory moving targets, the quality assurance tools have not been developed in parallel. For quantitative determination of the absorbed dose in an organ in the patient for a specific type of treatment procedure accuracy of respiratory motion management techniques, additional respiratory motion phantoms are required.

During irradiation, consistently high-quality images of advanced 4D radiation therapy treatments are obtained with minimum exposure of the patients and workers. Before the targeted radiation is delivered to a human subject, its effectiveness in focusing only on the tumour is checked with this phantom.

The major part of the phantom is a dynamic platform over which any imaging quality assurance devices can be placed, and the platform can mimic 3D tumour motion by using three independent stepper-motor systems. This platform is placed on the bed where the patient lays down during radiation therapy.

"As phantom emulates the lung movement, a moving or gating window is used to focus the radiation from the radiation machine on the moving tumour. Detectors placed in the phantom help detect whether the radiation is localised on the tumour," a release by the ministry of science and technology said.

The dose effectiveness is checked during therapy. The researchers are in the process of testing the system on a phantom. Once done, they will test it on human beings.

This is the first time in India that such robotic phantoms have been manufactured and they are more affordable than other imported products available in the market as the programme can be changed to produce different types of lung motion.

The innovators are further trying to commercialize the product, which can be used in place of the overseas model that is very much more expensive and does not give access to the control software.

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