ARRA – Nanotechnology enabled desktop image-guided microbeam radiation therapy

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Otto Zhou and his colleagues are working to revolutionize cancer treatment with MRT, or microbeam radiation therapy. Zhou wants doctors to be able to use MRT to kill cancer tissue without causing damage to a patient’s healthy tissue. While today’s radiation therapy works for many patients who are in the early stages of cancer, Zhou says, doctors have long searched for a radiation therapy that intrinsically kills cancer tissue without causing other damage.

Studies have already shown that a single MRT treatment can eradicate tumors in animals without causing harm to other tissue. And if human patients respond in the same way, the therapy could change cancer treatment as we know it, Zhou says: MRT could lead to higher survival rates and better quality of life for patients; it could drastically lower the cost of radiation therapy; and instead of dozens of daily treatments, patients could be treated effectively with just one MRT dose daily.

Most cancer researchers today have no access to MRT radiation, and scientists won’t be able to test the treatment in humans until they can study it further. But now, thanks to funding from the National Cancer Institute, Zhou and his colleagues are developing the world’s first desktop image-guided MRT system, based on nanotechnology they developed at UNC. Once it’s developed and tested, Zhou says, he and his team hope to commercialize the technology and make it available to the entire oncological community.


Principal Investigator: Otto Zhou

Unit: Arts and Sciences Deans Office

Award amount: $727,581
Award sponsor: National Cancer Institute

NC counties affected: Orange; Wake
Jobs created: 1.39