Laboratory research


The Challenge

Develop methods that provide the clinicians with photonics enabled tools to improve or to assess the successes of therapies; and transform low TRL technologies into robust medical devices answering to clinician needs.



With the global burden of cancer expected to increase by 45% between 2008 and 2030 due to the growth and aging of the population , there is an urgent need to ensure adequate treatment is available to allow countries to meet these WHO targets. Radiotherapy is the use of ionizing radiation for the treatment of cancer and 50 – 60 % of patients require radiotherapy at some point during their treatment . It is delivered in the form of external beam radiotherapy (EBRT), using linear accelerators (linacs), or internally, known as brachytherapy (BT). Brachytherapy is further divided into Low Dose Rate (LDR), where the radioactive sources, known as seeds, remain implanted permanently, and High Dose Rate (HDR), where higher activity radiation sources are temporarily implanted. Current dosimetry techniques rely on pre- and post-treatment CT (computed tomography) and ultrasound imaging with dose calculated via computerised treatment planning system. Without direct in vivo monitoring of the dose delivered to the patient, there is no independent dose verification, with many errors going undetected at the time of treatment. ORIGIN will address the urgent need to provide real-time in vivo dose imaging and source localisation methods, by the development of a new optical fibre based sensor systems to support diagnostics-driven therapy through enhanced adaptive brachytherapy (The ORIGIN System).
Scientist in lab


The problem

ORIGIN addresses the challenges of delivering effective and optimal brachytherapy for prostate and gynaecological oncology, through the introduction of novel optical fibre technology.


The project expands on the successful development of two innovative single point optical fibre dosimeters based on radio-luminescence using inorganic scintillating materials for HDR- and LDR- BT. Integrating an array of such sensors with a common acquisition system will provide real-time patient dose imaging of the target area and nearby organs at risk. The high temporal resolution of the sensor system (0.1 sec) provides the ability to further monitor the location of the radiation sources during treatment with 0.5mm spatial resolution for HDR-BT and 3mm for LDR-BT. The principles underpinning the individual components of the technology are established and this project will integrate the partners’ technologies to create a medical device that will be an exciting and valuable new tool for oncologists. Initial feedback on the concept from both end-user oncologists and the medical manufacturing industry is overwhelmingly positive as they recognise the benefits, endorse the innovation and acknowledge the commercial opportunities.

There is an unmet clinical need for accurate monitoring of the radiation dose delivered to the patient during seed implantation to improve patient outcomes
Monitoring the precise radiation dose delivered to critical organs near the tumour, such as the urethra and rectal wall, is crucial to reduce these adverse side-effects and further improve the quality of life of cancer survivors


Project Design

The project is centred on three pillars, each with specific challenges associated to them. Pillar I is centred on the system design and development for dose imaging and source localisation during LDR- and HDR-BT. Pillar II is aimed at the system integration within a clinical environment and validation for improved clinical outcomes through adaptive brachytherapy. Pillar III focuses on the manufacturability and exploitation of the ORIGIN system for improved sensor design for improved optical signal collection efficiency, higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and repeatable mass-manufacturability.

Laboratory research


Key Project Concepts


Development of novel dose imaging system with increased sensitivity (x10) using new optical fibre arrangements


Use of real-time imaging system for highly efficient radiation source localisation


Develop and validate treatment protocols for the integration of real-time imaging and source localisation into a clinical setting (enhanced dose-led treatment – 55% improvement)

Sensor Design

New radiation sensor design for improved optical efficiency (x2 for LDR-BT, x1.5 for HDR-BT)


Optimised sensor design for cost effective mass manufacturability and recyclability


Work Plan

The ORIGIN project is divided into 8 workpackages based on a three pillar approach, System Development, Clinical development and Manufacturability.



Project Impact
ORIGIN will expand on the successfully developed HDR- and LDR- BT dosimeters, starting at TRL 2, whereby the overall ORIGIN system concept has been formulated, to provide an innovative solution for improving the accuracy of radiation dose delivery, providing safeguarding, real-time dose verification and ultimately improving the outcomes for cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment. The technology will be demonstrated in the relevant clinical environment, using phantoms, to bring the technology to TRL