During the Varian User Meeting held at this year’s ASTRO Conference in San Antonio, TX, we announced two exciting developments in proton therapy. The first announcement was the introduction of the smaller ProBeam® 360° Proton Therapy System. Decreasing the size of proton therapy equipment has been important since the discovery of the therapy in the early 1950’s when cyclotrons and treatment rooms were massive complex lab experiments. The issue the industry has struggled with since has been how to make proton systems smaller and more accessible, while not compromising capabilities and quality. With the introduction of the ProBeam 360° system, Varian now offers a smaller system without compromise: a full line of features, including RapidScan® technology – single breath-hold treatments in <5 seconds, and a 30% smaller footprint resulting in approximately 25% savings in vault costs. What makes the ProBeam 360° system even more unique is the ability to deliver ultra-high dose rates with a 360-degree gantry in a smaller footprint. This is especially important as we look forward to the potentially game-changing research now being done with protons.
Our second announcement was the formation of the Varian FlashForward™ Consortium to study ultra-high dose rate cancer treatments with protons. Flash therapy is a non-invasive treatment using external beam radiation delivered in high doses, at ultra-high speeds (less than 1 second), and in one to three sessions. The initial preclinical and translational research on the value of ultra-high dose rate Flash therapy for the treatment of cancer conducted by Varian and two of its clinical partners, Maryland Proton Treatment Center and Cincinnati Children's/UC Health Proton Therapy Center, has been promising. In order to expand this research, we have formed the FlashForward Consortium. With an initial thirteen members, the consortium is focused on preclinical and clinical research, clinical implementation and advocacy efforts for flash therapy. The founding members of the FlashForward Consortium are:
- University of Maryland Department of Radiation Oncology
- Cincinnati Children's/UC Health Proton Therapy Center
- Danish Centre for Particle Therapy
- Holland Proton Therapy Centre
- New York Proton Center
- Penn Medicine
- The Christie Proton Therapy Centre
- University College London
- University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Emory Proton Therapy Center
- Paul Scherrer Institute
- Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Proton Therapy
- VU University Medical Center Amsterdam
This new therapy represents an exciting and potentially promising new direction in the treatment of cancer. Working groups in the FlashForward Consortium will help identify preclinical and clinical study design for understanding this therapy, develop and share protocols that will enable a safe and effective clinical implementation, and assist with regulatory and advocacy efforts.
We are very excited about the initial preclinical research that has been done on flash therapy and the potential for a major breakthrough in cancer care. Our preclinical results have shown significantly reduced toxicities to healthy tissues while maintaining excellent tumor control and thereby enhancing the therapeutic ratio. We look forward to working closely with the members of the FlashForward Consortium and taking a big step forward in the fight against cancer.
For more information, visit the FlashForward Consortium and ProBeam 360 pages.
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