Acoustic MedSystems will develop the MRI-compatible ablation device and software to help guide and control it. The device will have tiny sensors that will enable doctors to precisely track its position in real-time MRI images and an array of ultrasound emitters that will permit the zone of penetration of ultrasound to be adjusted to match the shape of the tumor as it appears in the live images. "The combination of guidance by real-time imagery and a conformable ablation zone will result in a significant step forward in the accuracy and success of ablation therapy," Fischer said. "While our focus now is on brain tumors, we believe this technology will have applications in treating cancers in other organs, as well."
The team at UMass Medical School will bring their expertise in MRI imagery to the research and will also coordinate and conduct clinical tests of the robotic ablation system. Fischer's team will develop a new robotic device specifically designed to manipulate and deliver the ablation tool to the proper location in the brain under live MRI guidance. The ablative therapy will then be performed with live MR thermal imaging (MRI scanners are able to detect temperature changes in tissues). The ultrasound energy produced by the tool will heat surrounding tissue sufficiently to destroy it; MR thermal imaging will be used to monitor which tissues are being heated and enable physicians to interactively adjust the output of the ultrasound tool to assure that the proper thermal dose is delivered.
"MRI is an excellent imaging modality for many conditions," Fischer said, "but to date there has been limited success in harnessing this modality for the guidance of interventional procedures. With this award from the NIH, we believe we will be able to develop a new approach and new technology that will effectively harness the power of MRI to improve the treatment of brain cancer."
About the Automation and Interventional Medicine (AIM) Laboratory
WPI's AIM Lab is engaged in research in various areas of biomedical robotics, including robot-assisted surgery, image-guided interventions, MRI-compatible mechatronics, haptics and teleoperation, robotic rehabilitation, and assistive robotics. The lab's director, Professor Gregory Fischer, joined WPI in 2008 after receiving a PhD in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University as part of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer Integrated Surgery. The robotic technology funded by the new NIH award builds on the AIM Lab's pioneering work with surgical robots that are designed to work within the challenging environment of an MRI scanner. As a core research thrust, the AIM Lab has developed a modular MRI robot control system, approaches to actuating piezoelectric motors, optical force sensors, in-bore teleoperation, and surgical systems for stereotactic neurosurgery and percutaneous prostate cancer interventions. In previous work, funded by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs and the NIH, and conducted in collaboration with researchers and clinicians at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Johns Hopkins, and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Fischer and his colleagues have also developed MRI-guided robotic systems for use in surgery for the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.
About Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelorís, masterís and doctoral degrees. WPI's talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspective Program. There are more than 30 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
Michael Dorsey, Director of Research Communications
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
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