Safer radiotherapy

A collaboration between York and Hull University researchers has resulted in the development of a novel gel that could improve radiotherapy treatment.

Modern radiotherapy treatment is a sophisticated business, allowing tumours to be targeted with high doses of radiation while avoiding normal tissues. However, the means of checking and measuring the doses that are applied is currently extremely time consuming.

But all that’s about to change, thanks to a collaboration between researchers at York and Hull Universities. Together, they have developed a novel gel that could greatly improve the way that doses of radiation are measured.

Following irradiation, the magnetic properties of the gel are altered and the ‘gel dosimeter’ can then be imaged using MRI, making three-dimensional dose information quickly available to radiotherapists.

Post-doctoral fellows Mark Godber and Andrew Wilson, under the guidance of Prof John Goodby at York University’s Department of Chemistry, developed the gel, with non-clinical lecturer Dr Gary Liney at Hull University.

Now, a shareholder agreement has been signed to formally establish a new company – Imagel – which will market the product. The gel has already been trialled in eight leading UK radiotherapy centres, and Imagel is now working with medical physicists in a number of leading oncology departments in health trusts across the UK.

‘With modern techniques in radiotherapy there is a requirement for improved dosimetry methods. Our gel dosimeter can give radiotherapists more confidence to deliver complex radiotherapy plans, improving success rates while reducing harmful side effects,’ said Dr Mark Godber, who is now CEO of Imagel.

Much of the impetus for the spin-out company – and £200,000 of initial funding – has come from York University’s commercial exploitation partner IP Group.

Imagel was originally established with the help of the York University’s Enterprise and Innovation Office, initially using £30,000 from the Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship scheme.

Yorkshire Cancer Research and Medipex, the commercialisation arm of Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust, are also stakeholders in the new company.