Preclinical Tool for Advanced Translational Research with Ultrashort and Ultraintense X-ray Pulses


Funded by: Ministero dell’Istruzione, Università e Ricerca (MIUR)  
Calls: PRIN 2015
Start date: 2017-02-05  End date: 2020-02-04
Total Budget: EUR 198.149,00  INO share of the total budget: EUR 50.663,00
Scientific manager: Paolo Russo   and for INO is: Labate Luca

Organization/Institution/Company main assignee: Università di Napoli “Federico II”

other Organization/Institution/Company involved:

other INO’s people involved:

Abstract: This scientific team intends to realize (via finalization of previous research work), to characterize, and to apply for preclinical research at the experimental level, a new X-ray source for advanced in vivo X-ray imaging and tumor radiotherapy studies in small animals.
This source, and associated imaging detectors, dosimeters and software simulation tools, has unique properties of temporal resolution, spatial resolution and spatial coherence, featuring a table-top structure which provides compatibility with a clinical environment as found in hospital-based preclinical facilities.
Due to the widespread use of animal models for the preclinical study of human diseases and drug development, dedicated tools have been developed for both high-resolution imaging and high-dose rate irradiation on small living subjects.
X-ray based techniques play a prominent role on the above-mentioned domains, as demonstrated by the growing number of micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) scanners (Badea et al, Phys Med Biol 2008; 53:R319-50) as well as the recent spread of several prototypes of small animal radiation therapy (RT) tools (Verhaegen et al, Phys Med Biol 2011:56;R55-83).
Despite their usefulness on biomedical research, state-of-art laboratory-level micro-CT and micro-RT instrumentation suffers from known limitations of conventional X-ray sources such as beam polychromaticity, poor temporal resolution, poor spatial coherence.
On the other hand, RF-based linear accelerators are of little help in small animal radiotherapy research due unmatched energy range (6-25 MV) for small subjects and low spatial accuracy.
The project aims at designing and setting up a proof-of-principle micro-CT/RT platform for small animals exploiting the unique features of a novel concept all-optical Thomson backscattering X-ray source.
This kind of source is able to provide quasi-monochromatic X-ray pulses with duration down to ~10 fs and source size down to ~20 micrometers.
The wide range of energy tunability of this source (from a few tens up to a few hundreds of keV) will enable the realization and comprehensive characterization of a prototype system for applications covering both diagnostic and therapeutic X-ray beam applications.
At the diagnostic regime (< 100 keV), the system setup will be optimized and characterized to perform both absorption-based and in line propagation-based phase-contrast 2D/3D imaging in small laboratory animals. We aim at giving particular emphasis on the dynamic imaging of the beating heart, where high spatio-temporal resolution is required due to the small sample size and high heart rate of mice and rats. At the therapeutic regime (100-300 keV), we will exploit the high brilliance and spatial coherence of the Thomson source to explore its potential as a micro-irradiation facility for preclinical studies of tumor radiotherapy on small animals, on the same experimental setup used for imaging and hence intrinsically ready for image-guided RT.