Decoded: Speeding up cancer treatments

Oncologists at Boston Childrens Hospital now have a clearer idea of when it is safe and effective to start testing on immunotherapy patients-and can make it happen with the help of a virtual avatar.

In a first-ever virtual study led by neurosurgeons they tested their new virtual ARTBO model for cancer patients with small diffuse reading neural tube tumors with a 90-day average survival rate (SRC) said Matthew Hirschman MD a researcher and coach with Boston Childrens. This type of tumor is typically incurable and is very hard to treat.

The ARTBO model is a large test bed that can be standardized to serve clinicians and patients and can be run on a variety of hospital systems said Dr. Hirschman head of radiology at the hospital and a senior resident radiation oncologist.

The system augmented with real-time tumor biology data team leader Dr. Elmer Abagyan said could be used to speed up development and understanding of treatments for patients and guide their prognosis. It could also be used for research to improve cognitive and other cognitive functions in people with cancer.

Ive been feeling increasingly frustrated with the challenges we faced in translating promising technology to show actual benefit. As a result Ive been very focused on the VR system to overcome some of the obstacles it had said Dr. Hirschman who is also the Joseph R. Jane Mummere Professor of Radiation Oncology at Boston Childrens.

Dr. Hirschman hopes the ARTBO model will benefit people with such tumors as it shouldnt be too difficult for doctors to visualize.

Youth and then a sizable group of advanced cancer patients who have many living after diagnosis are wondering what they might see if we get to work with the ARTBO model he said. It gives us a format that allows us to get large good to patients with a very complex disease and assess benefit. Late-stage patients with diffuse peripheral tumor or brain metastases are bench-to-bedside clinical researchers working with a virtual assistant who is able to note how different treatments result in achieving a rapid benefit.