UT professors believe they've found a safer way to treat prostate cancer

 Dr Mohammad Elahinia and Dr Ishmael Parsai
Dr Mohammad Elahinia and Dr Ishmael Parsai (WTVG)
Published: Jun. 10, 2019 at 8:44 AM EDT
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Two innovative professors at The University of Toledo think they've developed a safer way to treat prostate cancer.

Fighting cancer likely means fighting healthy cells as well - either through chemotherapy, surgery or radiation - and Dr. Mohammad Elahinia, professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, and Dr. Ishmael Parsai, professor and chief medical physicist in the UToledo Radiation Oncology Department and director of the Graduate Medical Physics Program - may have found a way around doing that damage.

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission recently awarded $150,000 to a startup company founded by the mechanical engineer and medical physicist to develop and commercialize Retractor, which moves the rectum out of the way during radiation treatment of prostate cancer.

That means fewer treatments and less damage.

“The rectal retractor provides a safer, more efficient way to treat prostate cancer,” Elahinia said. “The medical device is inserted into the body and set in motion by passing a small electrical current in a reliable, clean, silent process known as nitinol actuation, solving the persistent challenge in radiation therapy of prostate tumors.”

“Instead of a patient undergoing daily radiation treatment sessions for nearly two months in a conventional method of radiotherapy, he can come in and have five sessions,” Parsai said.

While the retractor will mainly serve prostate cancer patients, its creators think it could also be applied during radiation therapy for all pelvic tumors, such as cervical, uterine, vaginal and endometrial cancers.