Bull plays its role in the fight against cancer
On 4 April 2008, a symposium was held at the Gustave Roussy Institute at Villejuif (Paris) on new techniques for calculating the planned radiation doses delivered by photon or electron beams in the course of external radiotherapy cancer treatments.
Until now, the doses used were calculated using traditional analytical methods, which could not take into account all physical effects of the beams. The trajectory of the particles can be subject to random forces, typically when they pass from one medium to another in a heterogeneous environment (lungs, bones), so new calculation methods needed to be found to increase precision.
Since current medical imaging systems (scanner, MRI, PET) make it possible to delineate tumors and neighboring organs more precisely, the new techniques aim to simulate the trajectory of particles on scanner images, using Monte-Carlo type probability methods to process the physical aspects of irradiation.
The only disadvantage of the new method was the processing power needed to achieve enough precision in an acceptable calculation time for clinical application. This is precisely what Bull’s HPC Centre of Expertise has achieved, having studied the problem and delivered a supercomputer adapted to the task in hand. The chosen radiation physics codes originate from the University of Barcelona, and have been parallelized and optimized by the French Atomic Energy Authority (the CEA), which also did the metrological validation. DOSIsoft, a company specializing in radiotherapy software solutions, integrated the application within the radiotherapy system to deliver a finalized product ready for clinical use.
Since it would be impractical for every radiotherapy center to install this kind of computer, it was decided to set up a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) infrastructure using the High-Performance Computing (HPC) architecture so that the service could be supplied on demand to other hospitals. The SOA infrastructure includes the Jonas application generator combined with the Bonita workflow engine and a web application. Security for the system is provided by data encryption and VPN, and integrity verification and an LDAP directory for managing access rights.
The symposium was an opportunity to present the solution to 120 radiation physicists and radiotherapy researchers. The dose calculation service is currently undergoing clinical trials with the Gustave Roussy (Villejuif), Curie (Paris), Alexis Vautrin (Nancy) and Antoine Lacassagne (Nice) Cancer Centers. It is due to go into production, and therefore be available to other establishments, by the beginning of 2009.
Bull is coordinator for the project, financed in part by the French technologies for health network (Réseau National des Technologies pour la Santé or RNTS). The TELEDOS (TELEservice DOSimétrie) project was launched at the end of 2005, and is due to be completed by the beginning of 2009.
This project was made possible thanks to an exemplary collaboration between Bull’s Java Enterprise Middleware and High-Performance Computing Centers of Expertise, and Bull’s Services and Solutions Division.
*LDAP : Lightweight Directory Access Protocol