HU Awarded Grant To Develop Improved Planning System For Proton Therapy

Hampton, Va. – The Center for Innovative Technology announced that the Hampton University physics department, in collaboration with Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), has received a $487,910 grant from the Commonwealth Technology Research Fund (CTRF) for the development of BioEclipse, the first biologically optimized treatment planning system for proton radiotherapy cancer treatment.

Proton therapy is widely recognized as the most precise form of cancer treatment to date, as it can target the tumor directly without harming the surrounding healthy tissue, with little to no side-effects. Precise treatment requires advanced patient treatment planning software. To identify the best treatment plan for each patient, many physicians currently rely on the Eclipse software product from Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, Ca.

According to the CIT, the goal of the CTRF grant is to develop BioEclipse, a planning system that has all of the features of Eclipse, but also takes into account the biological effects of proton therapy. The proposed biological treatment planning approach will facilitate even more precise dose delivery, which should improve the sparing of healthy tissue and increase the likelihood of killing the tumor.

“This is unique in that we will be the first to use a biological dose parameter rather than a physical dose from the treatment planning (of cancer patients),” said Dr. Richard Britten, associate professor at EVMS, adjunct professor at HU and co-principal investigator of the grant. “BioEclipse should provide a much more effective treatment plan for the patients.”

“Biological treatment planning will make a drastic improvement in the cancer treatment process,” said Dr. Cynthia Keppel, scientific and technical director for the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI). “Proton beam treatment is already great, and this will make it even better.”

“Britten explained that BioEclipse will ensure that patients will receive the most advanced treatment possible at HUPTI. “Our aim is to maximize the effectiveness of the HUPTI proton beam in eradicating their tumor,” said Britten.

Construction is almost complete on HUPTI, a $200 million effort located in the Hampton Roads Center South business park in Hampton. Scheduled to open in 2010, approximately 2,000 patients will be treated each year for prostate, breast, lung, pediatric and other cancers.

At 98,000 square feet, HUPTI has been named the largest free-standing proton therapy facility in the world. Now, with the CTRF grant, HUPTI will continue its innovative research that will have a profound effect on cancer patients worldwide.

“We are excited about the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute’s state of the art facility and advancing proton therapy treatment which will originate in Hampton, Virginia,” said Jimmy Eason, economic development director for the City of Hampton. “The Center for Innovative Technology’s grant of nearly $500,000 will fuel additional research dollars into our local economy and further stimulate the City’s emerging healthcare and medical device industry.”

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