Scientists in London are using 3D printed replicas of tumors and organs, called 'phantoms', to show how drugs will pass through tumors and give them a better understanding of how that will be replicated in individual patients. Amy Pollock reports
system.scripts.IVO Cancer treatment could soon be tailored to individual patients with the help of these... Replica or "phantom" tumours and organs which help scientists adjust the dosage of radiation given. Scientists from London's Royal Marsden Hospital and the Institute of Cancer Research use the 3D printed replicas to help them target cancerous tissue more precisely. Head of Radioisotope Physics Glenn Flux says it helps calculate radiotherapy uptake in each patient. HEAD OF RADIOISOTOPE PHYSICS AT THE JOINT DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS AT THE ROYAL MARSDEN NHS FOUNDATION TRUST AND THE INSTITUTE OF CANCER RESEARCH, GLENN FLUX, SAYING: "What we're heading for is personalised medicine where we tailor the activity administration to the individual patient and what we're trying to do all the time is maximise the radiation dose that we deliver to the tumours and to minimise the dose delivered to the normal organs." By using the emerging technology of 3D printing, the replicas more accurately represent the actual size and shape of tumours and their location. Clinical scientist Jonathan Gear. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CLINICAL SCIENTIST AT JOINT DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS AT THE ROYAL MARSDEN NHS FOUNDATION TRUST AND THE INSTITUTE OF CANCER RESEARCH, JONATHAN GEAR, SAYING: "It's a neuroendocrine tumour which would have originated from the adrenal gland. This was taken from a CT scan which would have been outlined on the computer and the tumour was segmented. It then goes into further manipulation using some CAD software and then we're able to send that to the printer to create a 3D shell of the tumour." It can take up to three days to print a tumour replica. Once it's ready, physicists test the flow of drugs by injecting it with the radioactive solution administered to patients. Then it's scanned again. The 3D replicas are designed to improve the delivery of molecular radiotherapy, used for the treatment of thyroid cancer and cancers of nerve cells in children. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF RADIOISOTOPE PHYSICS AT THE JOINT DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS AT THE ROYAL MARSDEN NHS FOUNDATION TRUST AND THE INSTITUTE OF CANCER RESEARCH, GLENN FLUX, SAYING: "Most of the radiopharmaceuticals that are used for therapy emit two types of radiation. One type of radiation is small beta particles and they travel a small way and they destroy tumours. But the radiation also emitted is gamma rays and we can pick those up outside of the patient using our special cameras and turn those into images of where the activity is." Clinical trials are planned shortly. The physics team think cancer patients could soon commonly see 3D copies of their organs as part of their care.