Researchers in Central Russia develop proton system to fight cancer
14 Sep '15
Scientists at the Tsyb Medical Radiology Research Center in Obninsk, in the Kaluga region in Central Russia, are developing a new proton accelerator which is expected to dramatically improve the efficacy of cancer treatment, portal Hi-tech.mail.ru reported.
Similar equipment is successfully used in other countries as well; however, it is way over 10 times more expensive than what the Obninsk researchers are putting together, the source underscored: $61.5m in Germany, for example, vs. $4.6m in the Kaluga region.
The system works by generating a flow of accelerated protons (the nuclei of hydrogen atoms), which are capable of destroying other atoms. By regulating the energy of protons, scientists are believed to be able to develop a tomography image of a tumor.
The Kaluga experts are said to have achieved an outstanding accuracy of focusing, which has helped step up the entire process of treatment considerably, the source said. For example, with a German analog, 30-minute pauses are required to fine-tune parameters; the Obninsk system is said to make it possible within a few seconds.
What adds to the advantages of the proton unit is that healthy tissue is not affected by radiation, thus keeping a patient from developing complications.
The team has been working on the project since 2013. Clinical trials are scheduled in the neighboring Moscow region when the construction of the unit is complete two years from now. Russia needs 60 such units at the very least.
So far, the Kaluga scientists appear to have succeeded in exposing to curative radiation the immobile parts of the human body. The next step is to develop methodology to treat cancers in the mobile organs, such as lungs, heart, etc.