Alongside surgery and chemotherapy, radiation therapy is one of the pillars of treatment of malignant tumors. Precisely targeting the tumor and sparing the surrounding healthy tissue are important prerequisites for therapeutic success. The SPARTA consortium is developing software to improve therapy planning and optimize patient-specific treatment. The work is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

Scientists from ten partners, including research institutes, medical technology companies, and university clinics, develop innovative, adaptive, and expandable software systems to help clinicians plan and perform radiation therapy. SPARTA’s overarching aim is to increase the safety and efficiency of radiation, and support tumor radiation in a more patient-friendly manner using innovative systems. The project goals include:

Accurately Measuring Variations: Computer-supported imaging and sensor systems should precisely measure when and how the patient’s anatomy changes both over the course of treatment and during radiation sessions. The systems should determine the patient's precise position and monitor movements such as breathing. Exact measurement of individual variations is a prerequisite for optimally adapting the radiation therapy to each patient.

Precisely Estimating Dosage: The software should compare the original radiation plan to variations that occur between or during treatment sessions by reliably estimating the cumulative dose that the tumor has received after a certain number of treatments. This allows clinicians to determine whether radiation has reached the target as planned.

Intelligently Adapting the Radiation Plan: The SPARTA project is developing a program to adapt a radiation plan to measured changes or even to expected variations between and during treatments. How pronounced and regular are the breathing movements, and do they cause movement of the target region? This information should be incorporated into each radiation plan before the treatment to increase accuracy. In addition, planning should become ‘adaptive’ by allowing simple and flexible adjustment during the course of therapy in case the tumor shifts due to weight loss or small changes in body position. The program should ensure that the planned radiation dose reaches the tumor and damages as little surrounding tissue as possible.

Autarkic Extendibility: The SPARTA software allows for certification of the basic platform, which can be extended with plugins for additional functionality while maintaining the certification of the overall system. The software can thus be adapted to the specific needs of radiotherapy for individual patients or clinical studies.

Project Members:

Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg
Klinikum der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Technische Universität Dresden, Medizinische Fakultät
Heidelberger Ionenstrahl Therapiezentrum Betriebs-GmbH, Heidelberg
MeVis Medical Solutions AG, Bremen
Precisis AG, Heidelberg
Siemens AG, Forchheim