The group’s research aims are measurement-guided preparation, delivery and follow-up in cancer radiation treatment, with a thematic focus on understanding in-treatment dynamics through large data mining. This is to ensure setup and delivery to an individual plan, provide the updated evidence for continuous tumour targeting and treatment adaptation, and improve the understanding of the impact of changing patterns of motion and shape on treatment control and outcomes. In this context, the collection and parameterisation of multi-dimensional data for clinical decision support and photon-proton treatment comparison is a growing activity.
These interests grew from participating in and leading EU Framework and UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) projects. DTG is one of the few medical physics groups embedded in the NHS eligible to bid for EPSRC ‘research base’ awards, through which we have explored the capture of expert clinical knowledge in soft tumour/organ segmentation using statistical shape modelling (GR/S41340/01). This work continued through a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Chief Scientific Officer Fellowship award, one of the first of its kind, looking at the correspondence between modelled and real world anatomical changes. Following a major EPSRC collaboration (EP/D078415/1)the group successfully developed its own in-room, true real-time 4D optical body surface sensing with patient feedback in NIHR project K021. This is now being trialled with Christie lung patients in the ROSS-LC trail. Having helped introduce cone-beam CT (CBCT) for image guided radiotherapy, DTG developed and patented a method to make 3D CBCT images suitable for direct dosimetric re-planning and is now expanding its applicability to moving lung images in Medical Research Council project (MR/L023059/1) ‘Making cone beam CT imaging fit for aggressive targeting & adaptive re-planning of photon and proton radiotherapy’. With industrial support from Xstrahl both optical sensing developments have been miniaturized and CBCT adapted for use on image guided preclinical radiotherapy platforms.
In preparation for a proton beam therapy centre in Manchester, DTG provides high-performance, scientific systems capability for use across all Christie Medical Physics and Engineering (CMPE) groups. This includes full in silico simulation using fast Monte Carlo techniques, which are being developed in partnership with Manchester University’s School of Physics & Astronomy. As with advanced X-ray photon therapy, a major challenge is to handle and learn from the associated “big data” emerging from the new proton facility. To this end the group has coordinated CMPE’s implementation of the nation’s first ‘computer assisted theragnostics’ system ‘ukCAT’ in partnership with Maastro Clinic, The Netherlands and Cancer Research UK.