The irradiation at ultra-high dose rates, namely FLASH-RT, can substantially reduce normal-tissue toxicities
while maintaining tumor response (so-called the FLASH effect), compared with the irradiation at conventional
dose rates (CONV-RT). Although many preclinical and some clinical studies demonstrated the potential benefit
of FLASH-RT, the effectiveness of FLASH-RT for general cancer patients is to be further validated through
By far the only commercially available system that can deliver ultra-high dose rates needed for general-
purpose clinical FLASH-RT is the proton modality, such as our IBA system. However, the state-of-the-art
treatment planning method, i.e., intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT), only optimizes the dose and does
not directly optimize the dose rate or the FLASH effect. A missing prerequisite for proton FLASH-RT clinical
trials is a compatible treatment planning method with FLASH optimization capability.
The key innovation and enabling technology in this project for clinical FLASH-RT is the first-of-its-kind
FLASH optimization engine via SDDRO, which was recently recognized by PTCOG 59 as the Michael Goitein
Best Abstract Award in Physics for its innovation and impact for FLASH-RT (Gao et al 2021). To the best of our
knowledge, SDDRO is the only method that can optimize the FLASH dose rate as well as the dose. Our
preliminary work (Gao et al 2020) for lung patients has demonstrated that, compared with IMPT, SDDRO
substantially improved the FLASH-dose-rate coverage (in order to have the FLASH effect for reducing normal-
tissue toxicities) while preserving the dose coverage, e.g., increasing of the target-surrounding volume
receiving =40Gy/s from ~40% to at least 98%, and the lung volume receiving =40Gy/s from ~30% to ~80%,
which occurred at high-dose and high-uncertainty locations with high-risk radiation-induced toxicities. Such
improved FLASH coverage is especially critical for reducing normal tissue toxicities given the hypofractionation
nature of FLASH-RT.
Given our innovative SDDRO, IBA proton machine with ultra-high-dose-rate capability, academic-industrial
partnership with IBA, FLASH radiobiology and dosimetry expertise, we are uniquely positioned to develop
novel SDDRO methods with FLASH optimization capability that is currently unavailable and urgently needed
for clinical FLASH-RT, including (1) general SDDRO methods with realistic FLASH models, machine
characteristics, and delivery mechanisms (transmission beams, conformal energy filters, or joint); (2)
translation of SDDRO methods into our IBA system, with end-to-end validation and verified FLASH dosimetry.
The completion of this project will render novel SDDRO methods with FLASH optimization capability that is
currently unavailable and urgently needed for clinical FLASH-RT, and set the stage for FLASH animal studies
and clinical trials.