GammaTile: a new alternative to external radiation for recurrent brain tumors

A groundbreaking medical device may mean people with brain tumors can live longer, better lives by delivering treatment directly to the site of their tumor. 

And no, we’re not talking about Novocure’s Optune, at least not this time. Although we strongly believe in Optune and if you haven’t, it’s worth asking your doctor about it. 

GammaTile is a thin wafer of collagen with radiation sources embedded within. It’s inserted during surgery, immediately following tumor removal to deliver targeted radiation where it is needed most.

This new device that we’re following the development of is called GammaTile, and it’s developed by GT Medical Technologies out of Tempe, Arizona. GammaTile is a thin wafer of collagen that gets implanted directly into the site of a tumor during tumor resection surgery. The tile delivers targeted radiation which disrupts tumor growth. 

GammaTile has been cleared by the FDA for radiation delivery in any recurrent brain tumors—including primary benign or malignant tumors as well as metastatic tumors. It was cleared by the FDA in July 2018. 

Earlier this year, Dr. David Brachman, the chief technology officer of GT Medical and one of the inventors of GammaTile published a study in the Journal of Neurosurgery, showing data that recurrent meningioma patients treated with GammaTile saw significantly better outcomes in terms of tumor progression compared to other standard treatments. 

Doctors at University of Minnesota Health have begun recommending GammaTile to patients with glioblastoma and other primary brain tumors. Dr. Kathryn Dusenbery,  Head of the Department of Radiation Oncology, said that the treatment offers the possibility of delivering radiation with few side effects, and beginning it immediately after surgery, neither of which are the case with traditional external beam radiation.

 “In this case, there’s really no radiation getting to the wound, so it heals just fine,” said Dr. Dusenbery,.

 The radiation within the implants last a little more than a month, and the tiles themselves will eventually absorb into the body.

“So it’s safer for the rest of the brain. There’s just one surgery, the patient goes home, they get their radiation, and they don’t need to come back to have it removed,” Dusenbery told KARE11 News of Minneapolis. 

GammaTile may not be widely available yet, but we will continue to report on it as developments emerge. And in the meantime, patients facing a recurrence may want to discuss it with their neuro-oncologists or neurosurgeons.

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