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WPI Physicist Publishes Work on Treating Eye Tumors

DEPARTMENT(S): 
August 20, 2021

WPI physicist David Medich and colleagues have published a paper in Physics in Medicine & Biology, a peer-reviewed medical journal, about the development of a device that delivers a more targeted and faster treatment for cancerous eye tumors. The treatment is designed to help protect healthy tissue in the eye, thus the patient’s vision, while successfully treating the tumor.

Medich, associate professor of physics, has been researching ways to better treat eye melanomas for about 10 years. This new paper focuses on developing an intensity-modulated brachytherapy plaque to produce a more targeted radiation treatment. Brachytherapy is a form of radiotherapy, in which sealed radiation sources, called pellets or seeds, are placed within a patient’s body in or next to the area requiring treatment and is one of the most effective and precise radiation delivery methods for ocular, gynecological, and prostate cancers.

Medich and his research team at WPI, which includes Justine Dupere, '21 (PhD), a co-author on the paper, have been simulating and testing the new 2-millimeter-thick brachytherapy plaque designed by John Monro III, managing director of Montrose Technology Inc, also a co-author. The researchers used a computer simulation of the new device to track how precisely they could target and deliver radiation to a specific location, performing simulations for multiple tumor sizes and depths. 

According to Medich, the new device, which can be used in an outpatient setting, can reduce the current ocular brachytherapy treatment time from roughly two weeks to less than ten minutes, while also reducing the amount of radiation absorbed by healthy tissues immediately surrounding the tumor by a factor of 10 or more. It also reduces the radiation hazard to the clinician administering the treatment.