For more than half of cancer patients, radiation therapy is used for treatment and can be highly effective to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells. However, radiation therapy can also attack healthy tissue, including the one in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Furthermore, this can lead to esophagitis, mucositis, and proctitis – all of these conditions are characterized by painful and sometimes irreparable tissue damage. It is estimated that these injuries happen in more than 200,000 patients in the U.S. each year.
A study published in Advanced Science describes the efforts involved to develop personalized 3D printed device. The device is developed with the objective to shield patients who are undergoing radiation therapy and to prevent radiation-induced toxicity. Till date, the work has been carried out in preclinical formats and uses simulations to predict effects in humans, thus, laying the groundwork for clinical trials.
“Importantly, for radiation therapy, the area of healthy tissues exposed to radiation is minimized, and the entire treatment broken into small doses, thereby a fine balance maintained. The entire objective is to administer maximum number of doses to reduce the tumor without causing harm to healthy tissues,” said the lead author of the study. Under this project, the goal is to find an innovative solution that could offer personalized protection for patients, added the expert.
Meanwhile, the project is a multi-disciplinary team work with experts in radiation oncology, mechanical engineers, physicists, and gastroenterologists.
In fact, gastroenterologists are commonly consulted for patients who face side effects of radiation in the small intestine, esophagus, or anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, said the corresponding author of the study.