Complementary to radiotherapy with laser-driven ion beams, this new project will be devoted to the improvement of radiotherapy using laser-driven brilliant X-rays for selected applications (e.g. radioresistant brain tumours). Contrast-enhanced Stereotactic Synchrotron Radiation Therapy (SSRT) has been explored at large-scale synchrotrons using narrow-band monochromatic radiation. Before treatment, the tumour is “loaded” with a heavy element compound and the photon energy is tuned slightly above the respective K-absorption edge. When the excited atom relaxes, energy is deposited locally and dose enhancement factors of 1.5 to 2 were reported.
Extensive experiments with animals demonstrated that SSRT can cure inoperable brain tumours like high-grade gliomas. The goal of this project is to translate monochromatic radiotherapy to the compact synchrotron source BRIX in CALA and demonstrate its performance in small animals. Moreover, we intend to combine the SSRT modality with new X-ray imaging approaches like phase contrast (see Research Areas C.1 and C.2) to develop a combined high-precision phase-contrast image-guided SSRT protocol for targeting cancer at the earliest stages.
The project is divided into three development phases starting when BRIX becomes operational: i) demonstration of radiotherapy with brilliant X-rays at BRIX in small animals in vivo, ii) implementation of phase-contrast image-guided radiotherapy and iii) setup of a combined unit using brilliant X-rays for imaging (phase contrast) and therapy (SSRT). Once operational, this setup will also utilise the fully laser-driven X-ray source SPECTRE for energies above 50 keV.