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SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS of the 50th AAPM Meeting in Houston, July 27 to July 31

3. NEW IRRADIATION METHOD HOLDS POTENTIAL FOR IMPROVING BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT PRECONDITIONING STEP

People facing bone marrow transplants have a series of challenges to surmount. One of the first is the total destruction by radiation of their bone marrow in a process called total body irradiation. This preconditions the person’s body to accept the new marrow as treatment for cancers of the blood and immune system.

Preconditioning may one day be improved if a feasibility study by a group of Chicago-area researchers is validated in further studies. In experiments using a specialized manikin-like form that is the radiological equivalent of the human body, 98% of the intended structures received 99% of prescribed radiation dose, while normal body structures were spared from high doses. “Compared to conventional total body irradiation, this new approach reduced radiation to critical body parts such as the heart and the lungs by as much as 64% and 30% respectively which is a distinct improvement,” says lead researcher Bulent Aydogan, Ph.D. of the University of Chicago (baydogan@radonc.uchicago.edu). Collaborators include researchers from the University of Illinois/Chicago and Loyola University Medical Center.

The new technique is called linac-based Intensity Modulated Total Marrow Irradiation. “Linac” refers to the linear particle accelerator used to deliver precisely planned doses of radiation to the body. Rather than dosing the entire body equally, it selectively targets bone marrow locations and administers lower radiation doses to the rest of the body.

Such accuracy is made possible by first mapping the patient’s body in 3D using a sophisticated computer scan. Next, computer programs optimize each beam of radiation into smaller “beamlets” so that each beam is individually suited to meet planned dosing goals for a given site. Finally, a linear particle accelerator (linac) delivers these planned doses to the patient. Radiation is therefore limited to bone marrow and cancerous structures, thus sparing critical organs in the body. If further evidence supports these early findings, the team hopes to move this new treatment to clinical trials involving humans.

Talk (TU-D-AUD B-7), "Feasibility Study for Linac-Based Intensity Modulated Total Marrow Irradiation" will be at 2:24 p.m. on Tuesday July 29, 2008 in Auditorium B. Abstract: http://www.aapm.org/meetings/amos2/pdf/35-9119-58942-165.pdf.

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HOW TO COVER THE MEETING

Reporters who would like to attend the meeting in person should fill out the press registration form on the AAPM Virtual Press Room. See: http://www.aapm.org/meetings/08AM/VirtualPressRoom/documents/pressregform.pdf.

Reporters who would like to cover the conference remotely will find releases and articles on the Virtual Press Room highlighting many of the interesting and important talks presented at the meeting. Even if you can't make it to Houston, the Virtual Press Room will make it possible to write stories about the meeting from your desk.

ABOUT AAPM

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) is a scientific, educational, and professional nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the application of physics to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. The association encourages innovative research and development, helps disseminate scientific and technical information, fosters the education and professional development of medical physicists, and promotes the highest quality medical services for patients. In 2008, AAPM will celebrate its 50th year of serving patients, physicians, and physicists. Please visit the association's Web site at http://www.aapm.org/.

ABOUT AIP

Headquartered in College Park, MD., the American Institute of Physics is a not-for-profit membership corporation chartered in New York State in 1931 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare.

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Media contacts:

Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics,
301-209-3091 (office) 858-775-4080 (cell)
jbardi@aip.org

Jeff Limmer, AAPM Media Relations Subcommittee Chair
jeffl@aspirus.org