Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most frequent malignancy in men, with a worldwide incidence of 60-99 new cases/100,000/year. In Italy, PCa represents 18% of male cancers and accounts for 8% of mortality. The overall aim of this project is to design and develop new medical devices that can improve our ability to diagnose and cure PCa.
First, we want to generate a high precision robotic device for prostate cancer biopsy, based on the implementation of a robotic arm that will allow targeted bioptic sampling based on the information gained from magnetic resonance and ultrasound images. Second, we want to develop an advanced prototype for the treatment of PCa, which will exploit the selective effects of micro-mechanical vibration stress (MVS) on tumor cells, thus killing them while sparing neighbour healthy cells. The new knowledge gained through the development of this project is entirely original. Indeed, the robotic instrumentation for the prostate-guided needle biopsy, that will incorporate the ultrasonic probe and the needle for the biopsy, is conceived as a system capable of self-learning through the storage and processing of maps derived from prostatic imaging.
The prototype equipment for the treatment of prostate cancer with MVS will allow us to accurately calibrate ultrasounds and the micro-vibrations to selectively damage neoplastic cells. These results will probably be the first to be produced on the international scenario with this approach and aim to provide the proof of principle that the equipment is able to work on the tumor mass.
This will be the necessary premise for subsequent clinical testing. We expect that such an approach may prove useful to solve the problem of treating the large number of cases of PCa that, when framed at the time of diagnosis as low-grade, currently do not undergo any treatment to avoid their side effects. Based on the prevalence of the disease, the expected results are predicted to have a great impact in human health and to reduce public health expenditure.
Moreover, the two instrumentations we want to develop could have an important impact in commercial and occupational terms. Industrial partners involved in this project could open new lines of activity devoted to the production of the robotic arm, MSV apparatus and dedicated softwares.