A new EU-funded project for enhanced real-time imaging for radiotherapy

ENTERVISION (European training network for digital imaging for radiotherapy) is a new Marie Curie Initial Training Network coordinated by CERN, which brings together multidisciplinary researchers to carry out R&D in physics techniques for application in the clinical environment.

ENTERVISION was established in response to a critical need to reinforce research in online 3D digital imaging and to train professionals in order to deliver some of the key elements for early detection and more precise treatment of tumours. The main goal of the project is to train researchers who will help contribute to technical developments in an exciting multidisciplinary field, where expertise from physics, medicine, electronics, informatics, radiobiology and engineering merges and catalyses the advancement of cancer treatment. With this aim in mind, ENTERVISION brings together ten academic institutes and research centres, as well as the two leading European companies in particle therapy, IBA and Siemens.

“The 16 ENTERVISION researchers (12 Early Stage and 4 Experienced researchers during a 48-month period) will join a dynamic programme and will become part of a network of experts with a unique set of competencies, expertise, infrastructures and training possibilities,” says Manjit Dosanjh, CERN’s Life Sciences Advisor and a member of the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Group.

The necessary technological development for this next-generation image-based in-vivo dosimetry is covered by the ENVISION project (European Novel Imaging Systems for Ion Therapy), which is also coordinated by CERN. In addition, ENVISION will provide a platform for the training of future generations of researchers under the umbrella of ENTERVISION.

“Both R&D and training projects aim at developing a high-precision radiation therapy using particle or photon beams” continues Manjit. ”Imaging techniques will help to obtain information on relevant tumour parameters, such as volume, position, topology, density – also of the surrounding tissue – in real time, to improve treatment quality. It will also be possible to adapt treatment plans in real time and initiate the appropriate regulation of the irradiation device to compensate for any deviations from the original treatment plan that could compromise a tumour conformal dose delivery.”

CERN is involved in both ENVISION and ENTERVISION through two teams led by Paul Lecoq and Alfredo Ferrari, working respectively on the development of detectors for image-based in-vivo dosimetry and on Monte Carlo simulations for modeling imaging devices. “The improvement of the reliability of simulation tools represents a continuous investment for CERN that can eventually have the same critical benefits for society as CERN's basic research,” says Alfredo Ferrari. “In addition to the resources for R&D in the fields of detectors and Monte Carlo simulations,” says Manjit Dosanjh, “CERN benefits from the input from other institutes and disciplines about how to better apply CERN’s technology in the medical field.”

The kick-off meeting for ENTERVISION took place from 2 to 4 February at the same time as the first annual meeting of ENVISION. The two meetings were held in Lyon, a location of particular relevance to the field of radiotherapy as it was here that, in July 1896, Victor Despeignes decided to use X-rays to treat a cancer patient, thus becoming the first person to ever perform radiation therapy.

Both projects are funded by EU Framework programmes and are further examples of CERN’s active policy in the coordination and development of EU R&D and training initiatives for better cancer treatment.

Till Boehlen, a CERN researcher within the Marie Curie PARTNER project, speaks about the Monte Carlo techniques applied to medical irradiation of tissues.

David Watts, a researcher at the TERA foundation within the Marie Curie PARTNER project, speaks about applying particle detectors to PET.

by KTT Life Sciences Unit