Pic: Principal physicist Prof. Dale Bailey and physicist Kathy Willowson.
A world-first trial of a next-generation cancer treatment which uses a tailored dose of radioactive copper to target tumours is underway at RNSH.
The trial involves six patients suffering meningiomas - inoperable and otherwise untreatable brain tumours. They are receiving four simple injections over six months.
The idea of treating cancer with radioactive copper has been discussed in scientific literature for a long time.
However, it is only coming to fruition now thanks to the significant development of the technology that made it possible to securely encapsulate the isotopes of copper in a "cage" and prevent leaking it into the patient’s body.
This technology uses more precise molecular targeting to ensure the treatment hits the cancerous cells while not impacting surrounding healthy cells.
The new treatment approach had been developed in conjunction with Sydney biotech Clarity Pharmaceuticals and Sydney Vital, the NSW Cancer Institute’s Northern Translational Cancer Research Centre.
It harnesses the precision of radiation treatment with the power of chemotherapy but without the side-effects to deliver cancer-killing radioactive copper therapy directly to diseased cells.
RNSH’s principal nuclear medicine physicist, Professor Dale Bailey, said: "This technique, in effect, delivers radiotherapy from inside the body and the new treatment plan means we are able, for the first time, to individualise each patient’s treatment by using imaging to plan their therapy.
"The alternatives currently available are unable to do this.
"Unlike a lot of chemotherapy, which can make patients feel unwell and cause other unwanted side-effects, this treatment minimises side-effects as it delivers an optimal therapeutic dose that targets cancer in a localised and safe manner.
"This has the potential to reduce the harmful side-effects while at the same time making the treatment more effective."