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Dalhousie is #springboarding 3D-Bolus to improve cancer patients lives

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Undergoing radiation therapy is incredibly stressful for many cancer patients and also time-consuming and Dr. James Robar, director of Dalhousie University's Medical Physics programs and professor of the departments of Radiation Oncology and Physics & Atmospheric Science, and his team set out to change that, working on a tool for health practitioners that improves the accuracy and efficiency of this treatment, while making it a more comfortable experience for the patient.

With access to high tech equipment, state-of-the-art software and linear accelerators radiation oncologists and medical physicists are able to deliver treatment in a highly automated way, but there are key steps of the process that remain very manual. These include using a device called a bolus, a layer of tissue-equivalent material placed on the patient's skin during treatment that assists in providing the optimal dose of radiation.

Producing a bolus that works perfectly and needs to be custom made for each patient, leads to inaccuracy and is very time-consuming. However, with the increased availability of 3D-printers, Dr. Robar saw an opportunity and in 2012 he started working on finding a better way to produce the bolus.

With the support of Springboard Atlantic's Innovation Mobilization Proof-Of-Concept (POC) grant, Dr. Robar and his team purchased their first 3-D printer, and began creating four different devices:

Electron Beam Therapy

Photon Beam Therapy

Immobilization Device

Brachy therapy

Springboard was thrilled to learn that all of these applications have been shown to greatly enhance the accuracy and efficiency of the radiation treatment process and the next step was to put it in the hands of clinicians.

With the support of Dalhousie's Industry Liaison and Innovation the 3-D printing technology was licensed over 18 months ago, and from there a start-up company called 3-D Bolus was formed to begin developing the product. The product includes the software that will enable practitioners to create photon and electron boluses, low-density immobilization and brachytherapy surface applicators. The application is bundled with a 3-D printer.

Currently, version one of the product has been developed and has secured CE Mark clearance. The technology has been deployed in clinics in Dublin, Ireland and Tel-Aviv, with research versions in Chicago, San Francisco and Halifax.

Going forward, the company's approach will be to bring in 10 founding clients who will be the first in the world to use the technology in the clinic and to assist with testing and further development. Once they receive Food and Drug Association (FDA) clearance, slated for early 2018, they will begin sales in the US.

To read the full article on Medical Express, click here.