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Dartmouth Professor Leads Innovation in Radiation Therapy Visioning

Sep 18, 2020   |   New Hampshire Union Leader

This article about DoseOptics Beam Site, a company led by Dartmouth Engineering Professor Brian Pogue, is part of the New Hampshire Union Leader's 2020 Innovators section.

"The way radiation therapy works today, a patient is lined up with the beam, so that treatment can be delivered directly to the cancer cells. The goal is to align the patient to get the treatment to the right place — the cancer cells — without having the beam come in contact with healthy cells, which the beam can also kill. But the beam is invisible, so it’s a bit of a guessing game. Pogue says there are no perfect technologies for aligning the patient to receive treatment.

"'They can take an X-ray of the patient. They can use laser lines projected from the wall to position the patient,' he says. 'Many patients, believe it or not, still get tattooed with little spots of ink, and radiologists use the tattoos on the patient to line up where they should sit on the table. The problem is that the patient has to come in every single day for a month and be lined up to millimeter-precision. That’s a real challenge. So, they’ve sort of made this black art of tattooing the patients, then using laser pointer lines to align them.'

"With DoseOptics BeamSite, radiologists can see a real-time video of the beam directly on the patient, including entry and exit beams. They can also record and playback video for future analysis.

"The solution is deployed in alpha test sites including Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Duke University, Washington University in St. Louis, Emory University, and Harvard Medical School. The team is now in the process of applying for FDA approval for clinical use.

"'We know everything in medicine is really good, but it’s not always perfect,' says Pogue. 'The key with radiation therapy is that if it’s not perfect, you can have damage to normal tissue surrounding organs. Being able to see the beam treat the patient every day allows them to know whether some kind of incident or misplacement of a body part has occurred.'”

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