A British medical company is working with scientists at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (Cern) to develop affordable proton beam therapy. Thousands of cancer patients could benefit from this ambitious plan to bring state-of-the-art technology into hospitals across the UK.
Two proton therapy facilities are already due to be launched at specialist NHS centers in London and Manchester in 2017. But they will only be able to take 1,500 patients a year and will focus on highly complex and difficult-to-treat cases.
The new proposal led by London company Advanced Oncotherapy with the help of Cern scientists would see cheaper and more accessible proton beam therapy units established in 10 hospitals and clinics across the UK over five years. Dr Steve Myers, Cern’s director of accelerators and technology, said : « We would like to create a machine that fits into a reasonable-sized room and could be installed in any teaching hospital. »
Dr Michael Sinclair, chief executive of Advanced Oncotherapy, hopes to open his first center in 2016. He said: « Our intention is to make the treatment available both to the private sector and the NHS. There are currently 320,000 new cancer patients diagnosed in Britain each year, and up to 15% of those could benefit from this treatment. When the NHS facilities are opened, they will only be able to treat a small proportion of these cases. Our aim is to make this therapy available to the masses, which would be a massive step forward. »