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Proton Beam Therapy and CERN Hadron Technology Are Fighting Cancer With LIGHT

Article by Drew Turney at Autodesk Redshift


According to the US National Cancer Institute, nearly 40 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during their lives. The World Health Organisation names cancer as the second leading cause of death globally, causing nearly one in six deaths. In case anyone needs reminding, cancer is a big deal.

Alongside chemotherapy and surgery to remove tumors, about 40 percent of cancer patients are treated with radiotherapy, which fires ionizing radiation into the body, killing malignant cells with X-ray photons. Roughly 17,000 clinics worldwide deliver X-ray radiotherapy treatment today.

Traditional radiotherapy can damage surrounding tissues because it ionizes the body along its entire path, leading to the potentially serious side effects associated with cancer treatment—which is even more fraught when the cancer is located near a critical organ. Enter the proton, the positively charged particle found in the nuclei of atoms. Proton beam radiotherapy for cancer treatment, which has been in use as far back as 1954, promises more precise control of where it delivers energy to kill cancer cells.

Clearly, proton therapy is a much better method, but it’s only available in approximately 65 facilities worldwide. What’s wrong with this picture?

Using a Wrecking Ball to Hammer a Nail

The scientists who started Advanced Oncotherapy asked themselves the same question. Headquartered in London—with 90 staff in the UK, Switzerland, and the United States—the company is taking proton beam therapy into the new age with its novel proton beam therapy (PBT) system, LIGHT.

Initial research on the system originated from a program at CERN in Geneva, and ADAM, an Advanced Oncotherapy subsidiary spun off from CERN, was instrumental in the early stages. In fact, 60 of Advanced Oncotherapy’s scientific staff are based in Geneva. According to David Navas, Advanced Oncotherapy’s vice president of investor and corporate relations, the initial CERN technology is still a major asset for the company. “Having a license on a CERN technology that builds on decades of CERN experience in accelerators is enormously advantageous to ADAM and Advanced Oncotherapy,” he says.

Advanced Oncotherapy is on target to treat its first patient in 2020. Still, if this technology has been around since the 1950s, why is there development to be done? Quite simply, proton therapy costs too much, and it’s too technically inaccessible. “Current systems are based on cyclotrons or synchrotrons,” Navas says. “They have drawbacks inherent to the design of the accelerating system itself.”

Those systems can be large and heavy and must be manufactured and installed under very controlled (read: expensive) conditions. This can mean systems with the footprint of a sports field, impossible for most hospitals; although smaller accelerators exist, they suffer from the same inherent issues that all cyclotrons and synchrotrons do, such as slow beam-energy modulation that’s problematic for accurate targeting. Requiring a dedicated building plus accelerator equipment, which alone can cost upward of $100 million for multitreatment-room systems, it’s out of reach for most health-care bodies.

Advanced Oncotherapy Quality Manager Neil Barker recalls hearing of a synchrotron installation that required putting the machine in place and completing the building around it. “They couldn’t get an 800-ton crane, so they had to install it using two 500-ton cranes,” he says.

But Advanced Oncotherapy’s system is broken down into constituent parts—modules—and streamlined. An everyday bed lift could move all components, transporting them to the assembly point inside a clinic or specially adapted building, Barker says. That’s because the company is developing a linear accelerator rather than the traditional round shape. The world’s only linear accelerator for PBT, LIGHT offers several advantages over circular accelerators: It can take up less space; does not require expensive, complex cryogenic cooling; demands less shielding because stray radiation is reduced; and offers the ability to change energy levels rapidly on a pulse-by-pulse basis.

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Asia Cancer Market Update – MedTech Intelligence

Asia Cancer Market Update

by Ames Gross

Government healthcare expenditures in Asian countries has been increasing steadily in recent years. According to a 2016 Deloitte report, the average annual increase in government healthcare spending in Asian countries is more than 6%, compared to 4.5% in the United States and less than 1.5% in the European Union. The Japanese government remains the top healthcare spender in the region. In India and China, annual healthcare expenditures are increasing by approximately 16% and 9%, respectively. However, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that overall healthcare spending per capita remains low in India and China compared to other Asian countries. Increases in Asian healthcare spending are often times aimed at dealing with cancer, including improving early detection and diagnosis services, reducing out-of-pocket treatment costs, and providing newer therapies.

China: The MedTech Market: Strategic Planning & Practical Considerations for Medical Device & Diagnostic Manufacturers | June 5-6, 2017 | Learn moreCancer in Asia is becoming more prevalent and deadly. The WHO estimates that more than 4 million people died from cancer in Asia in 2016. In China, cancer is the leading cause of death and there are four million new cancer patients diagnosed every year, equivalent to roughly 12,000 people per day. Likewise, cancer is the leading cause of death in South Korea, and there are more than 200,000 new cancer cases a year. While not the leading cause of death in Japan, cancer still accounted for more than 400,000 deaths in 2016. Worldwide cancer incidence continues to increase, and experts estimate there will be more than 10 million cancer cases in Asia by 2030, compared to 2 million cancer cases in the United States.

The rise in cancer cases and deaths can be attributed to lifestyle and demographic changes. With age, the risk of developing prostate and other types of cancer rises. Countries that have aging populations, like Japan and South Korea, have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of prostate cancer cases. Additionally, factors like poor diet and low levels of physical activity also lead to a higher risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast, stomach and esophageal.

Lung cancer prevalence is particularly high in Asia, largely due to high tobacco usage. However, even in countries like South Korea where smoking rates are decreasing, lung cancer incidence remains high. Research indicates that besides smoking, poor air quality and cooking oil fumes may contribute to the continued high rates of lung cancer in Asia.

The increase in cancer patients has resulted in growing demand for the latest cancer devices and drugs. Proton therapy is becoming more popular worldwide, including in Asia. Proton therapy is thought to be less damaging than traditional radiation, as the radiation can be delivered to very specific areas. The method is able to target cancer cells, causing less damage to the surrounding healthy tissue..

Full article here

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