Proton beam therapy and physics to be explored in research collaboration

Proton beam therapy
The deal was signed last week at Imperial
Proton beams are streams of high-energy protons, or positively-charged particles, which have been accelerated using particle accelerators or cyclotrons.
They are currently used for treating certain cancers, and are being extensively studied as possible alternatives to traditional radiation therapy for a wide variety of cancers.

The collaboration with City Proton aligns with Imperial’s key strategic priorities of fundamental discovery science, health and wellbeing.

– Professor James Stirling, Provost

Now, researchers from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London are partnering with proton beam company City Proton to work together on a new £11.7 million collaborative programme to investigate and improve proton beam technology.

City Proton are currently constructing a proton beam treatment centre, which is due to open in late 2018/early 2019, when twelve years of collaboration will begin, including consultancy and collaborative research.

This will be one of the first high-energy Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) facilities in the UK. There are over fifty such facilities in the USA, Europe and the rest of the world. The new centre will allow researchers to develop the next generation of devices, potentially leading to a reduction in the cost of treatment and wider adoption of this technology.

The partnership includes access to facilities and a dedicated research team for Imperial physicists, who will investigate the properties of the proton beam, how the energy of the beam is distributed in biological samples, and how to most effectively target the beam for treatment. This could form a better understanding of how PBT offers an improvement on traditional radiotherapy treatment.

The partnership was signed last week at Imperial with representatives from Imperial’s research team, City Proton including Ken Anderson, Chairman, Imperial Consultants and Imperial Innovations, as well as Professor James Stirling, Provost of Imperial College London.

We aim to create a facility of academic excellence, providing in-depth study of proton therapy to improve the technology and ultimately to discover what the optimal particle therapy for cancer is.

– Professor Mark Glaser

Leading the research collaboration from Imperial are Professor Jordan Nash, head of the Department of Physics, and Professor Mark Glaser, Visiting Professor in the Department of Physics.

Professor Nash said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the Department to bring together our teams, who design the most advanced accelerators, with experts on using proton beams for cancer treatment in order to guide the development of future more flexible and potentially smaller treatment accelerators.”

Professor Glaser will work through Imperial Consultants (ICON) in the first two years of the agreement to help get the centre up and running. Professor Glaser added: “We aim to create a facility of academic excellence, providing in-depth study of proton therapy to improve the technology and ultimately to discover what the optimal particle therapy for cancer is.”

Professor Stirling said: “At Imperial we realise that no university – particularly one such as ours which focusses on science, engineering, medicine and business – can achieve excellence or realise the full benefits of its work by itself.

“We have to partner with institutions with a similar aspiration for excellence as ourselves, and with a similar focus on addressing the great challenges facing the world today. The collaboration with City Proton aligns with Imperial’s key strategic priorities of fundamental discovery science, health and wellbeing.”

Any intellectual property arising from the research will be commercialised by Imperial Innovations, the College’s technology commercialisation partner.

Imperial researchers are set to explore the particle and medical physics of proton beams in a new research partnership with City Proton.