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Pursuing lower costs and greater access to proton therapy

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | October 03, 2022
Rad Oncology Proton Therapy
From the October 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


Cincinnati Children's/UC Health Proton Therapy Center is a member of the FlashForward Consortium, an international group focused on preclinical research and advocacy for FLASH therapy. Formed in 2018 by Cincinnati Children’s, Maryland Proton Treatment Center, and radiation oncology vendor Varian, now a Siemens Healthineers company, the association is composed of nearly 30 members today that are conducting preclinical research and developing and sharing protocols for clinical implementation of the treatment.

Another group, The FLASHKNiFE Consortium, was launched in June by PMB, a subsidiary of industrial company Alcen, around the use of FLASH therapy with the FLASHKNiFE platform, an ultrahigh dose rate LINAC mounted on a mobile base. The solution has been tested in clinical applications for skin cancer treatment and intraoperative radiotherapy, and the FLASHKNiFE Consortium seeks to use it to treat tumors that are resistant to conventional radiotherapy.

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“We can consolidate an entire course that goes over a number of weeks into a single or number of treatments. It’s the same tumor control, but with less toxicity compared to conventional radiation courses. It has the potential to really be a disruptor in radiation oncology,” said Dr. James Metz, chair of radiation oncology at Penn Medicine, a clinical and research entity that is made up of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Another up-and-coming treatment is heavy carbon ion therapy, which uses carbon ions to destroy malignant cells and attack cancers resistant to X-ray radiation. While conformal and similar in effectiveness to protons, carbon ions are expected to cause more biological damage to tumor cells by breaking down their complex DNA double-strands.

In 2022, Mayo Clinic Florida broke ground on what will be the first heavy carbon ion therapy center in the U.S. at its Jacksonville campus. The provider has partnered with Hitachi, one of the few carbon manufacturers, to complete the $233 million building, which is expected to be operational and treating patients by 2025. It also will offer proton therapy treatment, and MR and CT imaging.

“It’s important for us to study the biological and clinical value and define it in terms of when particle therapy like heavy carbon ions should be used and in which patients; when proton therapy should be used; and when conventional X-rays should be used,” said Frank.

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