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Physicists receive patent for improved cancer therapy device
Date:11/25/2008

UPTON, NY - Four physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have been awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,432,516 B2 for the design of a "medical synchrotron" capable of delivering precision doses of proton radiation to cancerous tumors with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue. The new device would be more precise and less costly than existing proton-therapy systems, potentially increasing the availability and benefits of this treatment for cancer patients worldwide. The Brookhaven scientists are now seeking industrial partners to license and commercialize the technology.

"In the realm of cancer treatment, proton therapy is considered 'surgery without a knife' because proton beams can deliver cell-killing energy with extreme precision, unlike conventional x-ray radiation therapy," said Brookhaven physicist Stephen Peggs, one of the lead scientists on the project. Peggs, while working at DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, witnessed the completion of the nation's first hospital-based proton-therapy synchrotron, installed at California's Loma Linda University Medical Center in 1990.

"Almost as soon as the Loma Linda synchrotron went out the door, we started thinking about ways to build a better machine," Peggs said. The current design - developed and refined as Peggs and other physicists worked on large-scale accelerators for physics experiments, including the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven Lab - is the culmination of that effort.

"Our new design has improvements in beam-focusing technology to make the smallest possible beam size - that is, the sharpest possible 'knife,'" said Peggs. Because smaller beams deliver radiation with increased precision, this improvement could have a significant impact by shortening the duration of treatment, increasing its effectiveness, or both. The new design also promises to be less costly and more reliable, which should increase its av
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Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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