Programa de I+D en Biomedicina 2017

PRONTO (PROtontherapy and Nuclear Techniques for Oncology) is a project funded by the local government of Madrid, (B2017/BMD-3888). PRONTO is led by Luis Mario Fraile from GFN (UCM), Olof Tengblad from FNEXP-IEM (CSIC) and Miguel Ángel Morcillo from BIOMED-CIEMAT.

Proton therapy is a radiotherapy technique that potentially offers a better treatment conformation than conventional radiotherapy (photons and electrons), and consequently, the number of prototherapy centers around the world is continuously increasing. However, there are a number of uncertainties around the exact location of the dose deposited inside the patient that prevent maximizing the potential of the technique, because the precision required in this technique is much greater than the one needed in radiotherapy. Therefore, several techniques have been proposed to verify in-vivo that dose deposited in each treatment session has been delivered as expected. However, these techniques have not reached a level of maturity sufficient to allow their use in the clinic. For this reason, this project proposes the development of novel methodologies that aim to solve the deficiencies of the verification techniques in proton therapy.

Specifically, work will be done on the development of the PET technique for imaging tissue activation, providing the use of high resolution detectors such as those used in pre-clinical imaging and the use of contrasts with high activation capacity. Both techniques will allow a substantial increase in the usefulness of this technique in the clinic by offering high quality images and an improvement of the signal in the tissues of interest. Likewise, it is intended to verify the proton range by detecting gamma rays of the prompt type (emitted instantaneously) that are generated when the tissue is activated. This will be done by taking advantage of the high-performance technology acquired by the research groups in the field of experimental nuclear physics in large international laboratories such as CERN. Finally, fulfilling the main objective of the project, clinical protocols will be defined that maximize the impact of developed range verification systems, in collaboration with worldwide experts in radiation oncology and nuclear medicine, so that the developed technologies have a real impact in the treatment of patients.