AMTEC-PRO – Advanced Methods and Technologies for Proton Therapy (GRK 3043)
The goal of the research program of AMTEC-PRO is to improve the standard of care in proton therapy (PT) through advanced imaging methods, novel treatment paradigms and emerging technologies. While PT is a mature technology that is successfully practiced in more than 100 dedicated facilities worldwide, it is still an extremely active field of research. The research goal of this RTG directly addresses three out of four objectives defined in a recently published roadmap for PT [Pag21], namely ‘planning and delivery’, ‘imaging’ and ‘patient selection’. The research program stands out due to a technology transfer from the fields of physics and chemistry (including material science) towards medicine, following the appeal to build ‘multiprofessional research groups’ to advance PT [MBa16]. We have identified three task areas (TAs) along the process chain of PT which lie at the interfaces of these disciplines, and which work synergistically towards a clinically significant improvement in the field of PT. These TAs aim at developing new instruments and imaging methods, improving the understanding of clinical radiation effects as well as fundamental research on the potential of utilizing nanoparticles as radiosensitizers in PT. The projects comprise a well-balanced mixture of applied and fundamental research. They are guided by well-defined clinical key aspects that significantly improve existing routines and consider new technologies and methods, and they enable novel treatment techniques in the future. The three TAs are:
- Task area 1: Instrumentation and imaging. This TA covers the development of novel, more precise and reliable instruments to monitor patient setups and the dose delivery which are an important basis to improve the clinical benefit of PT. It also addresses improvements in accurate registration and segmentation models using machine learning (ML) techniques as they are crucial for tailored treatment planning and dose delivery. It will explore the potential of intensity-modulated high-energy PT and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)-integrated PT.
- Task area 2: Radiation effects. This TA addresses multi-scale modeling and improved understanding of radiation effects of proton radiation dose. These are pivotal, as PT is primarily applied to significantly reduce treatment-related side effects. Studies in this TA include biological measurements of cell systems, the problem of irradiating targets affected by motion in the pencil-beam scanning (PBS) delivery mode and the development of clinical radiation effect models.
- Task area 3: Sensitizers. In future therapy concepts, risk adaptation has to be provided. Therefore, the addition of sensitizers, e.g. scalable and sterile nanoparticles and grafted radical-promoting ligands, could enhance individualized concepts and the effectiveness of radiation in the tumor tissue. Understanding the interaction between biocompatible inorganic nanoparticles – that can be prepared with high reproducibility on large scale and on demand – and proton radiation is the first step in this innovative approach. The research program focuses on the role of radicals in the particle-surface-dominated amplification of radiation effects and the molecular mechanisms of PT. The interdisciplinary research program requires a customized qualification program which enables a new generation of researchers to successfully work in an interdisciplinary framework at the interface of the scientific disciplines involved. The doctoral researchers of this RTG will not only be educated in their original field of research, but they will also develop an interdisciplinary viewpoint on the broad range of RTG topics. The program is carefully tailored and comprises a lecture series as well as seminars and practical teaching units to foster an exchange between the doctoral researchers of the different scientific fields. In the long run, AMTEC-PRO intends to establish a sustainable link between basic research in the natural sciences, new technological developments and modern medicine. The added value of the research program is characterized by its truly interdisciplinary character: the three TAs require expertise from different areas of science and clinical practice. Through the establishment of an RTG, this expertise is systematically brought together and is the guiding theme for both, the research program and the training of the doctoral researchers. This is the most promising way to significantly advance the field of PT and to successfully lead it into the future.
Prof. Dr. Kevin Kröninger, TU Dortmund, Lehrstuhl für Experimentelle Physik IV
Gesamtfördersumme: 18.000,00 €
Prof. Dr. Kevin Kröninger
Lehrstuhl für Experimentelle Physik IV