Safely Dispensing Radioactive Powder for Spine-Rad™ Brachytherapy Bone Cement

Background - 

200,000 people with spinal bone tumors die each year in the U.S. These bone tumors cause extreme pain, reduce bone strength, and can lead to neurological complications.  Conventional treatment of these tumors  involves the following:

  1. Vertebral augmentation such as vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty which restores bone strength and provides pain relief
  2. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) to slow tumor progression

EBRT irradiates the spinal cord, which limits the dosage a patient can receive & the therapy can also weaken bone (leading to fracture). EBRT causes multiple side effects such as GI tract issues, burning of the skin/esophagus, etc.

To combat these side effects, Dr. Keyak’s lab has created Spine-Rad Brachytherapy Bone Cement, which combines FDA-approved bone cement with an insoluble radioactive powder, P-32-HA. This can be delivered in a minimally invasive method to the patient to simultaneously provide reinforcement to the bone, pain relief, and a higher radiation dosage to nearby tumors without irradiating the spinal cord. With this procedure, there's less side effects, less hospital time, and better quality of life for patients, and, based on previous dosimetry studies, a therapeutic dose of the Beta emitter can be delivered to the tumor/bone within ~4mm of the cement surface while maintaining a safe dose to radiosensitive tissue such as the spinal cord beyond 4mm & a relatively short half life (14 days).

The big issue our project aims to solve is keeping the technician assembling the radioactive bone cement safe from the beta emissions through an automated process. The powder comes in a glass ampule that requires scoring and snapping in order to measure and dispense the powder dosage into a syringe for the bone cement. 


Goals and Objectives - 

With the completion of our project, we aim to 

  1. Design, fabricate, and test a system which can: 
    • Score and snap a glass ampoule containing P-32-HA powder such that powder can be dispensed. Ensure the powder is not contaminated by glass fragments in the process of dispensing the powder. 
    • Dispense a user-specified mass of P-32-HA into a syringe which will be used to mix the bone cement and will be sealed into packaging.




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Sponsor Contacts - 

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