Physicists, Medical Industry Team Up to Build Advanced Cancer Therapy Accelerator

February 28, 2012

by Justin Eure

A new collaboration between Brookhaven and Best Medical International (BMI) aims to design one of the most dynamic and effective cancer therapy devices in the world. The ion Rapidly Cycling Medical Synchrotron (iRCMS) draws on the particle acceleration expertise of Brookhaven physicists and BMI's medical experience to advance cancer therapy, particularly the evolving use of carbon and other light ions.

“We believe a machine capable of delivering both protons and carbon ions will fill the gap in the particle therapy available to cancer patients in this country,” said Joseph Lidestri, a chief consultant for BMI and senior scientist at the New York Structural Biology Center. “Ion therapy has proven itself as a valuable option, providing improved control with less collateral damage for patients with resistant diseases. This new device will open new and potentially more effective pathways through carbon and other ions.”

Synchrotrons, devices that accelerate particles along a circular path by synchronizing magnetic and electric fields, have proven useful in hospitals for their efficiency and ability to generate high quantities of finely-tuned particle beams. These energetic beams are used to bombard and destroy cancerous tumors.

The iRCMS, a 64-meter particle racetrack, will be unique in the field because it rapidly cycles at 15 Hertz, allowing the ion beam to deposit energy throughout an entire longitudinal column with each cycle. This delivery method has the distinct potential to strike each layer of a cancerous tumor in a single treatment cycle.

Visit Brookhaven National Laboratory online for full announcement.