New particle accelerators will probe how charged particles assume a new identity, or change ‘flavor’

New particle accelerators will probe how charged particles assume a new identity, or change ‘flavor’
An example of simulated data modeled for the CMS particle detector on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Credit: Lucas Taylor, CERN

Particle accelerators are powerful devices that use electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles like electrons or protons at speeds close to the speed of light, then smash them head-on. What happens in a blink of an eye during these high-speed collisions can tell us about some of the fundamental secrets of nature.

In a new paper in the June 1 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters, Bhupal Dev, assistant professor of physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, describes how future accelerators could crash together charged particles in a new way to shed light on their behavior.

Theorists like Dev are working to outline the big ideas that will shape the experimental approach for next-generation colliders, such as the International Linear Collider, to be built in Japan, or the Circular Electron-Positron Collider, proposed in China.

Dev, who wrote the paper with postdoctoral fellow Yongchao Zhang from Washington University and Rabi Mohapatra from the University of Maryland, is looking for a clear signal of something beyond the Standard Model of particle physics.

“There is strong experimental evidence that there is indeed some new physics lurking in the lepton sector,” Dev said.

He and his collaborators believe a new collider built to crash together point-like, charged particles called leptons, which have no internal structure, is the best bet for finding this new physics.

This approach is different from the one employed at today’s most famous particle accelerator—the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, researchers used the LHC to discover the Higgs boson, the particle that supposedly gives mass to all elementary particles.

But there are profound questions that the LHC is not ideally suited to answer.

Dev’s new work on lepton colliders was initially motivated by the phenomenon of neutrino oscillations. Neutrinos are the electrically neutral counterpart of the charged leptons, and they have been observed to change from one species to another in a quantum-mechanical way. This suggests a tiny, but non-zero, mass for neutrinos.

“Ever since we directly observed neutrino oscillations, researchers have been trying to see the equivalent effect in the charged siblings of neutrinos, such as muons transforming into electrons,” Dev said.

This would give a better understanding of the neutrino mass generation, which is difficult to explain by the same Higgs mechanism as for other elementary particles.

But so far, searches for such rare processes have been confined to energies much lower than those expected on the new physics scale.

In their new paper, Dev and colleagues propose how to search for the evidence of lepton “flavor violation”— the moment of transformation of charged particles into other types of charged particles—at the high energy frontier, using the new colliders. In the Standard Model, these effects are known to be negligible. Therefore, any positive signal would be a sign of new physics.

In particular, they suggest one possibility that arises due to the presence of a new type of Higgs boson that might be responsible for the tiny neutrino masses.

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SLAC’s X-ray Laser Opens New View on Proteins Related to Alzheimer’s Disease

By placing the tiniest strands of proteins on one-atom-thick graphene, scientists capture promising X-ray laser images of these elusive biomolecules that play a key role in neurodegenerative diseases.

  • Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Experiments at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source show the promise of using X-ray free-electron lasers to better understand the structure and function of amyloid fibrils, tiny protein strands that play a role in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In this illustration, X-ray light penetrates a sample of amyloid fibrils placed on the honeycomb-like carbon lattice of graphene, a new method that produces cleaner data because the thin graphene virtually disappears from view.

To learn more about diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, scientists have zeroed in on invisibly small protein filaments that bunch up to form fibrous clusters called amyloids in the brain: How do these fibrils form and how do they lead to disease?

Until now, the best tools for studying them have generated limited views, largely because the fibrils strands are so complex and tiny, just a few nanometers thick.

Now an international research team has come up with a new method with potential for revealing the structure of individual amyloid fibrils with powerful beams of X-ray laser light. They describe it in a report published today in Nature Communications.

In experiments conducted at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the scientists placed up to 50 fibrils at a time on a layer of graphene, whose carbon atoms are arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern, and hit them with bursts of X-ray laser light. The graphene, it turned out, was almost transparent to the X-rays, and this allowed them to probe the structures of the delicate fibrils without picking up significant extraneous signals from the graphene layer in individual snapshots.

While the team did not uncover the complete fibril structure, they said the innovative method they developed at LCLS opens up a promising path for amyloid studies using X-ray free-electron lasers, or XFELs, such as LCLS.

Carolin Seuring, a scientist at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) at DESY in Germany and principal author of the paper, said the results suggest this technique could even be used to determine the structure of individual fibrils.

“There is a common consensus that it is not the amyloid fiber alone, but rather the protofilaments composing the fiber and the process of fibril formation that are toxic to the cell,” she said. “XFEL-based experiments have the potential to overcome the challenges we’ve faced in better understanding amyloid fibrils.”

The Problem with Amyloids

While amyloid fibrils are believed to play a major role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases, scientists have recently discovered that they also have other functions, Seuring said.

“The ‘feel-good hormone’ endorphin, for example, can form amyloid fibrils in the pituitary gland,” she said. “They dissolve into individual molecules when the acidity of their surroundings changes, after which these molecules can fullfil their purpose in the body. Other amyloid proteins, such as those found in post-mortem brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, accumulate as amyloid fibrils in the brain, and cannot be broken down and therefore impair brain function in the long term.”

Accurate information about the structure of amyloid fibrils can inform scientists about their function, she added.

“Our aim is to understand the role of the formation and structure of amyloid fibrils in the body and in the development of neurodegenerative diseases,” Seuring said.

One barrier to studying amyloid fibrils is that they cannot be grown as crystals, which are the conventional targets for structural studies using X-rays. And because individual amyloid fibrils are so small, they don’t produce a measurable signal when exposed to X-rays. Scientists typically line up millions of fibrils parallel to each other to amplify the signal, but information about their individual differences is lost in the process.

“A major part of our understanding about amyloid fibrils is derived from nuclear magnetic resonance and cryo-electron microscopy data,” Seuring said. But these methods are also of limited value for seeing individual differences between amyloid fibrils or observing their formation. “The structural analysis of amyloids is complex and examining them using existing methods is hampered by differences between the fibrils within a single sample,’” she said “Being able to look at the individual components of the sample would make it possible to determine the 3D structure of one type of fibril at a time.”

The New Approach

Earlier attempts to study fibrils at X-ray lasers delivered them into the path of the beam in jets of fluid. Switching to a solid graphene carrier gave the team two advantages, according to CFEL’s Henry Chapman, a professor at the University of Hamburg and a lead scientist at DESY.

Because graphene is just one layer of atoms thick, it leaves hardly a trace in the diffraction patterns formed by X-rays scattering off the fibrils, which are used to determine their structures, he said. And the regular structure of the graphene encourages the fibrils to all line up in the same direction.

This allows diffraction patterns to be obtained from fewer than 50 amyloid fibrils. Based on the results, the team hopes to eventually get patterns from single fibrils. To get to that goal, new methods of exposing a single fibril to the XFEL beam will need to be developed, according to Seuring: “With enough snapshots, a full 3D data set of a single fibril should be possible.”

The exceptionally bright and narrowly focused beam at LCLS’s Coherent X-ray Imaging instrument was also key to the team’s success in taking data from such a small number of fibrils, according to SLAC staff scientist Mengning Liang.

Intense X-ray pulses at XFELs limit the exposure of delicate samples to damaging X-rays. In this study, the fibrils were exposed for only a few femtoseconds, or millionths of a billionth of a second. Before the molecules are destroyed, information about their structure can be read by detectors.

“Fibrils are a third category of samples that can be studied with the ‘diffract before destroy’ method at XFELs, in addition to single particles and crystals,” Liang said. “In some regards, fibrils fit between the other two: they have regular, recurring variations in structure like crystals, but without the rigid crystal structure.”

The scientists tested their method on samples of well-studied tobacco mosaic virus filaments and smaller amyloid fibrils, some of which are associated with certain types of cancer. The tests produced structural data with a high degree of accuracy: The resolution in the diffraction images was almost on the scale of a single atom.

“It is amazing that we are essentially carrying out the same experiments as Rosalind Franklin did on DNA in 1952, which led to the discovery of the double helix, but now we are reaching the level of single molecules,” says Chapman.

LCLS is a DOE Office of Science user facility. Other researchers who contributed to this study came from the University of Zurich; Center for Cellular Imaging and Nano Analytics in Switzerland; DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; University of Canterbury; University of Gothenburg; University of Bordeaux; University of Copenhagen; ETH Zurich; University of Oxford; Diamond Light Source; and the University of Hamburg.

Original Source:

Original Date: May 9 2018


Scientists Built The World’s Fastest Water Heater, And It Sounds Totally Insane

Also, it transforms water into a completely new physical state.


Forget warming your morning coffee in the microwave; a laser pulse made of X-rays has set a record for heating a few microlitres of water to 100,000 degrees Celsius in 75 millionths of a billionth of a second.

We wouldn’t recommend drinking the plasma, at least not without blowing on it first. But the product could help us better understand water’s unusual properties while improving how we carry out delicate investigations that rely on powerful X-ray lasers.

Thanks to their tiny wavelengths, intensely focused X-rays are a great tool for studying the atomic structures of molecules and other nanoscale objects.

Unfortunately it’s something of a double-edged sword – those short waves pack a lot of punch, so if you want to look closely at structures inside living cells, you shouldn’t expect much to be left after you’ve taken a snapshot.

To better understand the physics behind this destruction, an international team of researchers hit a tiny jet of water with a flash from an X-ray laser called the Linac Coherent Light Source at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the US.

Needless to say the thin stream of water got hot fairly quickly.

“It is not the usual way to boil your water,” says physicist Carl Caleman from Uppsala University in Sweden.

“Normally, when you heat water, the molecules will just be shaken stronger and stronger.”

Instead, the flash of X-rays punched the electrons right off the water molecules, setting them off balance.

“So, suddenly the atoms feel a strong repulsive force and start to move violently,” says Caleman.

That violent jiggling – for all purposes what we refer to as ‘heat’ – is equal to a scorching 100,000 degrees Celsius, way hotter than Earth’s core.

What’s more, it takes less than 75 femtoseconds to accomplish this, which doesn’t give the molecules making up the trickle of water much time to escape.

This sudden shock creates an unusual phase of water, one that is still a liquid but has the properties of a gaseous soup of charged particles.

“It has similar characteristics as some plasmas in the Sun and the gas giant Jupiter, but has a lower density,” says physicist Olof Jönsson from Uppsala University.

“Meanwhile, it is hotter than Earth’s core.”

While we’d all love to shoot high-energy lasers at things just to see what happens, the team had already performed the calculations so had a fairly idea what to expect. The experiment helped check their sums and assumptions about the weird molecular properties of water.

This research also has some important ramifications for using X-rays to research materials mixed in water, such as those found inside living cells. For the first 25 femtoseconds after being struck with the X-rays, not a lot happens.

It’s only at the 75 femtosecond mark that all hell breaks loose and the ionized water molecules cause significant changes to the surrounding chemistry, effectively destroying the material in the process.

“The study gives us a better understanding of what we do to different samples,” says physicist Nicusor Timneanu from Uppsala University.

Knowing the timing and nature of the state change could also help scientists improve methods that capture more accurate details of the atomic structures of various biochemicals.

Also, they get to brag about their cool use of an X-ray laser.

Original Source:

Original Date: 18 MAY 2018

Orignal Author:  MIKE MCRAE

Vertual brings the linac into the classroom

When pilots learn to fly a plane, they train on a flight simulator that artificially re-creates the aircraft environment – enabling them to hone their skills and practise expected and, importantly, unexpected flight scenarios with zero risk. So why not employ the same approach for radiotherapy? That’s the underlying premise of VERT (virtual environment for radiation therapy training) – a training simulator developed by UK company Vertual.

“Around 2000, I was teaching radiotherapy at Sheffield Hallam University,” explained Andy Beavis, Vertual’s CSO and radiotherapy director. “It would have been a lot easier to teach them in a linac bunker, but you can’t do that because it is being used to treat patients. So I had the idea of bringing the linac into the classroom instead.”

Vertual founders Andy Beavis (left) and James Ward
Vertual founders Andy Beavis (left) and James Ward

To do this, Beavis and colleagues established Vertual, a spin-off company from Hull University and Hull and East Yorkshire Hospital NHS Trust, to create tools for radiotherapy training and education. He notes that the development came about due to a collaboration between scientists from different fields, with his background in radiotherapy physics complementing that of the other founders, who were computer scientists. “It is truly one of those examples where the parts are greater than the whole,” he said.

Vertual’s product – VERT – creates a detailed simulation of a treatment room and linac, and uploads a patient model, using DICOM to transfer real patient data if required. The interactive 3D display shows the planned beam delivery, runs a virtual treatment and can even show the dose deposition inside the patient.

“VERT performs 3D linac simulations, using authentic hand controls from an actual linac, to give students hands-on experience of a treatment machine,” explained James Ward, managing director and a co-founder of the company. “It uses the same rationale as flight simulators, providing a completely safe environment for training. No-one is going to harm the patient. It’s the only simulator of this type in the world.”

When the company launched in 2007, VERT was rolled out to all radiotherapy training schools in England. “In the UK, we changed the way therapy radiography was taught,” said Beavis. “It was a great way to begin, as it also gave us a large bank of users who fed back to us and helped improve the software.”

Today, there are 138 VERT systems installed at 130 sites in 26 countries. While the main users are therapy radiographers, the system is also used to train medical physicists, dosimetrists and oncologists. It has also been used as a tool to explain the concept of radiation treatment to patients and their families.

Next step: protons
At the ESTRO 37 congress in Barcelona, Vertual was showcasing its newly launched Proton VERT, a simulator for proton therapy training. “Adoption of proton therapy has really accelerated, there are systems in operation in the UK now,” explained Ward. “This is a natural extension of our product and we anticipate it being useful for our customers in many countries.”

The initial release incorporates an interactive simulation of the Varian ProBeam proton gantry. It also includes a functional model of the ProBeam robotic treatment couch and integrates the ProBeam hand controls. The company notes that future developments will include modelling of other vendor’s proton systems.

As with its linac counterpart, Proton VERT can be used throughout all stages of the proton therapy process, providing 3D visualizations of treatment plans displayed on the machine, as well as simulated beam delivery. “Proton VERT provides tools to help people thoroughly understand the nuances of proton therapy, and to ensure that treatment is implemented in the right way,” said Beavis.

Beavis noted that one major advantage of both the linac and the proton version is that trainees can simulate what would happen if a treatment goes wrong. “They can see the effects of dose delivered to the wrong place, with no harm done,” he explained. “You’d struggle to find a pilot who hasn’t trained on a flight simulator first. We want to see the same here.”

Original Source:

Original Date: April 26 2018

Written By: Tami Freeman

Why Independent Linear Accelerator and Imaging Service is Important to the future of Healthcare.

The cost of delivering quality radiation oncology treatment is dominated by two factors; skilled, professional staff and the lifetime cost of the technology.

Tomorrow’s healthcare is characterized by the need to do more with less.  Although the number of required treatments are increasing, funds available to reimburse costs will decrease, and therefore, costs will have to be controlled and reduced.

In recent years, the capital cost of technology has been increasing sharply with Varian, Elekta and others developing some great products. However, a large part of the lifetime cost of this technology is ongoing maintenance and service.   A near monopoly has developed with the OEM controlling much more of the service than is normal for complex medical technology, causing annual costs to rise disproportionately.  It is generally agreed that negotiating with a monopoly rarely leads to the optimum outcome for the buyer, which is why Acceletronics, as an Independent Service Organization, is so important to the future of your Cancer Clinic.

Failure to attack lifetime technology costs will inevitably result in a need to refocus reductions to investments in staffing.  However, this would most definitely have a negative impact on patient experiences and outcomes. Therefore, re-visiting less expensive ways to maintain clinical uptime of equipment really does make sense!

Acceletronics is positioned to provide leverage to our customers by offering a quality alternative through our nationwide network of linear accelerator engineers and parts supply company.  Typical savings of one third of annual maintenance costs, across all major brands and models including TrueBeam, are achieved using our ISO9001 compliant processes and procedures.

Acceletronics has been approved as a quality vendor of Linear Accelerator maintenance and repair services by Group Purchasing Organizations and Clinical Asset Managers such as Vizient (formerly VHA and MedAssets), HealthTrust, TriMedX and GE Integrated Care Solutions to name just a few.

Take advantage! Get a quotation from Acceletronics today and join the hundreds of sites who are protecting their future through proactive positive change and have become our long term, satisfied customers.

In addition to repair and maintenance services, Acceletronics offers turn-key capital technology solutions of refurbished, pre-owned Linear Accelerators to overcome economic barriers to serving patients in challenging demographic areas.  We also offer disposal of excess equipment at fair market prices.

How 4 Advanced Technologies Are Changing The Future Of Cancer Care

Billions of dollars are poured into cancer research every year. And while chemotherapy has been the gold standard for cancer treatment over the past few decades, it’s likely that we’ll see a shift in the coming years. New technologies are being developed at a rapid pace and exciting developments are on the horizon.


pandoraferrari / Pixabay

4 Technologies Accelerating the Fight Against Cancer

Traditional cancer treatment options like radiation and chemotherapy have helped save thousands of lives, but they’re far from perfect solutions. In a world where technology is advancing at a rapid pace, the idea of generalized cancer treatment no longer seems like the best option.

“Every single person is unique, so it makes sense that every person’s cancer treatment should also be unique,” Palo Verde Cancer Specialists explains. “When cancer treatment is personalized, specialized, and focused, a patient has a higher chance of overcoming their particular form and severity of the illness.”

Personalized care that treats patients based on individual needs and circumstances is the goal – and there are a number of promising new technologies and trends.

  1. Streamlined Immunotherapy Drugs

Immunotherapy drugs are developed at a very rapid pace. While this is good news, it makes studying all of the various combinations challenging.

In order to expedite the process and get better results more quickly, leading researchers are working with pharmaceutical companies to administer small, rapid rotations of different immunotherapies to renal cancer patients to see more quickly what works.

“The process can take years. That’s why we are looking at novel trial designs that enable us to know sooner whether a treatment has any merit,” says Dr. Timothy M. Kuzel of Rush University Medical Center, which is spearheading this process. “If it does, we can then move more quickly into a large randomized trial that the FDA would sanction for approval.”

  1. IMRT

One of the issues with traditional radiation treatment is that it often damages healthy tissues and organs around the cancer itself. This can be dangerous and/or life threatening in certain situations. Enter a new type of cancer treatment that’s often used to treat cancers of the prostate, head and neck, lung, brain, and breast.

“Intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, is a type of cancer treatment that uses advanced computer programs to calculate and deliver radiation directly to cancer cells from different angles,” Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centers explains. “It allows people with cancer to receive higher, more effective doses of radiation while limiting damage to the healthy tissues and organs around it. This increases your chance for a cure and lessens the likelihood of side effects.”

  1. IGRT

Tumors grow and can even move from one treatment to the next (sometimes with actions as simple as breathing and digestion). When radiation doesn’t take this growth and movement into account, healthy issue can be compromised.

Image Guided Radiation Therapy, or IGRT, offers the distinct ability to detect, measure, and match the dimensions of a tumor with a high dosage of radiation. This allows doctors to target the cancer and nothing else.

  1. Targeted Therapy

Chemotherapy drugs come with a long list of unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects. And because no two people are the same, it’s often hard to predict the exact impact these drugs will have.

One recent advance that’s helping patients fight cancer without so many side effects is targeted therapy (or targeted treatment). The idea is to create a database of patients with similar genetic profiles that can then be used to suggest more effective targeted treatments that are more likely to work for individual patients.

Ultimately, the hope is that targeted drugs can one day be used to treat anyone with cancer. It is certainly an ambitious undertaking, but there is reason to be optimistic about the future of targeted therapy.

  1. Nanotech

There’s reason to believe that nanotech could soon have a major impact in the field of oncology. Nanoparticles with magnetic properties can be used to improve early detection and treatment – something that would drastically improve survival rates in many types of cancer – such as liver cancer.

“Current methods for diagnosis, such as MRI and ultrasound, typically detect liver tumors only when they’ve grown to about 5 centimeters in diameter, a little larger than a golf ball. By that point liver cancer can be tough to treat,” the American Cancer Society points out. “However, research shows that using iron nanoparticles (given intravenously) can make smaller tumors more visible on MRI, because the iron temporarily accumulates in the liver.”

In just this one application, nanoparticles could potentially save thousands of lives per year.

Fighting Back Against Cancer

Cancer is constantly evolving, so why wouldn’t the approach to treating cancer? As technology continues to improve, the medical community is constantly on the lookout for new ways to fight back against cancer through personalized care and treatment that is safer and more effective. The technologies highlighted in this article are just the starting point.

Original Source:

Original Date: April 9, 2018

Written By:

Seeing the future of radiotherapy in the MR Linac

We are currently calibrating a revolutionary new type of radiotherapy machine, which is set to transform cancer treatment by allowing radiation to be aimed at tumours with extreme precision. The ICR’s Helen Craig experienced the MR Linac from the inside.

MR linac unity full room side view

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust are the first in the UK to install a state of the art radiotherapy treatment unit called an MR Linac. So far an exclusive club of only 20 healthy (non-patient) volunteers have been scanned to trial the machine, as part of the PRIMER study that will help test and optimise the images it produces.

Given the chance, how could you turn down the opportunity to experience this futuristic machine from the inside? I certainly couldn’t. That’s how I found myself making my way down the familiar corridors of our partner hospital, The Royal Marsden, about to take a picture of my lungs for what I can confidently say was the first time in my life.

Combining two technologies in the MR Linac

I work for the ICR as a Public Engagement Officer, and I’m fascinated by the way new discoveries and technologies make their way into clinical practice, and help patients. The chance to be scanned in the MR Linac would make me a small part of that process.

My MRI scan will help test and calibrate the equipment that the MR Linac will use to look inside patients. It’s the combination of two technologies – the MRI and the linear accelerator – that sets the MR Linac apart from other radiotherapy machines.

With its real-time imaging, clinicians will be able to much more precisely fine-tune the X-ray beams to direct the radiation precisely at the tumour, and will even be able to account for the tumour moving in the body when, for example, a person breathes.

A firm foundation

Before I could be scanned, I was carefully screened for any metal items or health issues that could be affected by the scan. I changed my clothes, and, my sparkly socks having failed to make it past the metal detector, padded barefoot into the large, white room that houses the MR Linac.

I’ve followed the process of the machine being built for almost as long as I’ve worked at the ICR. I remember the digging of the foundations, big enough for 24 Routemaster buses, and the dramatic airborne delivery of the enormous magnet for the MRI machine.

I remember the ICR receiving a huge grant from the MRC, the support of Elekta, who developed the technology, and the dedication of the researchers and clinicians who prepared for this installation.

All that work – it all came down to this, a machine made for very human bodies, like mine, slightly ridiculous in hospital gown and bare-feet. It was a humbling experience.

We collect the latest news and video about the groundbreaking MR Linac on a dedicated page.

Experiencing the scan

Luckily, I did not need to do anything – the radiographers looked after me extremely well, settling me into the slightly strange, stretched positon that a lung scan requires. I was warned that the machine can be loud – although you are able to listen to music to distract from this.

As they slid me into the machine, I felt the tips of my fingers emerge from the open end of the tube – there was no feeling of claustrophobia. And at first, as the scan started, I found it all too easy to relax and enjoy the chance to, as one supportive colleague put it, lie down at work.

But my mind soon wandered, and I found myself attempting to interpret the machine noises – could there really be a scientific reason to repeat the opening notes of Bah Bah Black Sheep, before moving on to CoCoCo sound?

Was I going to have to sit through the whole alphabet? Just as my arms and neck were starting to protest, I felt myself slide out into the open – the session was over.

Research for smarter, kinder radiotherapy

The images of my lungs will help to make the machine better, and in the end, will lead to a smarter and kinder treatment for the patients who will pass through the MR Linac.

I want to thank everyone who worked on the trial, and on developing this promising new treatment. I look forward to hearing the news of the MR Linac being used to treat a cancer patient for the first time – it’s heart-warming to know I might have played a very small part in making that possible.

Original Source:

Original Author: Helen Craig

Original Date: April 5 2018

World-class facility to treat cancer in pets

cancer in pets

A new purpose-built radiation oncology facility for dogs and cats has officially opened its doors in Sydney, promising to revolutionise the treatment of cancer in pets.

The groundbreaking facility, built by the Small Animal Specialist Hospital in North Ryde, boasts Australia’s first dedicated Veterinary Linear Accelerator with stereotactic capability.

“We will be able to save and extend the lives of pets across the country as a result of this incredible technology,” the Small Animal Specialist Hospital managing director Dr Justin Wimpole said.

“It has taken many years of design, development and delivery and we are proud to have launched such a much-needed facility for our furry friends.”

The central feature of the facility is the new Elekta Synergy Agility Linear Accelerator which is one of the most technologically advanced cancer treating linear accelerators available. Commonly seen in many human radiation treatment facilities throughout the world, it can provide stereotactic, definitive and palliative radiation treatments all in the one machine.

“The beauty of the machine is that it allows us to treat some cancers of very small areas with minimal effects on surrounding normal tissues—and in a shorter period of time to what was previously the case,” Dr Wimpole said.

“We are able to focus the delivery and strength of the radiation in a very precise and direct manner for our patients. This means we can maximally treat the cancer with minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.”

The good news for pet owners is that the service is covered in part by many pet insurance premiums, Dr Wimpole added.

“Cancer is one of the most common illnesses to affect pets during their life and as pets age it will become more common. Hopefully, we can help to treat as many of them as possible with our groundbreaking technology.”

Original Source:

Original Date: March 20 2018

Radiotherapy: bridging the gap

A major effort is under way to develop innovative, robust and affordable medical linear accelerators for use in low- to middle-income countries.

If you live in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC), your chances of surviving cancer are significantly lower than if you live in a wealthier economy. That’s largely due to the availability of radiation therapy (see The changing landscape of cancer therapy). Between 2015 and 2035, the number of cancer diagnoses worldwide is expected to increase by 10 million, with around 65% of those cases in poorer economies. Approximately 12,600 new radiotherapy treatment machines and up to 130,000 trained oncologists, medical physicists and technicians will be needed to treat those patients.

Experts in accelerator design, medical physics and oncology met at CERN on 26–27 October 2017 to address the technical challenge of designing a robust linear accelerator (linac) for use in more challenging environments. Jointly organised by CERN, the International Cancer Expert Corps (ICEC) and the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the workshop was funded through the UK Global Challenges Research Fund, enabling participants from Botswana, Ghana, Jordan, Nigeria and Tanzania to share their local knowledge and perspectives. The event followed a successful inaugural workshop in November 2016, also held at CERN (CERN Courier March 2017 p31).

The goal is to develop a medical linear accelerator that provides state-of-the-art radiation therapy in situations where the power supply is unreliable, the climate harsh and/or communications poor. The immediate objective is to develop work plans involving Official Development Assistance (ODA) countries that link to the following technical areas (which correspond to technical sessions in the October workshop): RF power systems; durable and sustainable power supplies; beam production and control; safety and operability; and computing.

Participants agreed that improving the operation and reliability of selected components of medical linear accelerators is essential to deliver better linear accelerator and associated instrumentation in the next three to seven years. A frequent impediment to reliable delivery of radiotherapy in LMICs, and other underserved regions of the world, is the environment within which the sophisticated linear accelerator must function. Excessive ambient temperatures, inadequate cooling of machines and buildings, extensive dust in the dry season and the high humidity in some ODA countries are only a few of the environmental factors that can challenge both the robustness of treatment machines and the general infrastructure.

Radiotherapy and imaging kit in Tanzania and Nigeria
Radiotherapy and imaging kit in Tanzania and Nigeria

Simplicity of operation is another significant factor in using linear accelerators in clinics. Limiting factors to the development of radiotherapy in lower-resourced nations don’t just include the cost of equipment and infrastructure, but also a shortage of trained personnel to properly calibrate and maintain the equipment and to deliver high-quality treatment.

On one hand, the radiation technologist should be able to set treatments up under the direction of the radiation oncologist and in accordance with the treatment plan. On the other hand, maintenance of the linear accelerators should also be as easy as possible – from remote upgrades and monitoring to anticipate failure of components. These centres, and their machines, should be able to provide treatment on a 24/7 basis if needed, and, at the same time, deliver exclusive first-class treatment consistent with that offered in richer countries.

STFC will help to transform ideas and projects presented in the next workshop, scheduled for March 2018, into a comprehensive technology proposal for a novel linear accelerator. This will then be submitted to the Global Challenges Research Fund Foundation Awards 2018 call for further funding. This ambitious project aims to have facilities and staff available to treat patients in low- and middle-income countries within 10 years.

Original Source:

Original Date: Apr 5 2018

Original Author: Charlotte Jamieson