Tuesday, January 20, 2009

DOE Seeks Industrial Partners

The Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory has a patent for the design of a medical synchrotron capable of delivering precision doses of proton radiation to cancerous tumors while producing minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissues.

BNL physicist Stephen Peggs one of the lead scientists on the project is looking for partners in industry to help build the first of these new machines. The laboratory is prepared to help the industrial partners by building the first specialized high tech items, however, since most of an accelerator is made from conventional technology, BNL is looking for most of the work to be done by industry. BNL is looking for an industrial consortium to see this project move into the commercial sector and then move into hospitals across the country.

In treating cancer, 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. BNL came up with a new design that has made improvements in beam focusing technology and is now able to make the smallest possible beam size—that is, the sharpest possible knife. Using smaller beams to deliver radiation with increased precision could have a significant impact by shortening the duration of treatment, increase effectiveness, be less costly, and be more reliable.

Compact beam size has other benefits as well. Smaller components makes everything lighter and less expensive and eliminates the need for water cooling magnets as air cooling will be sufficient.

For more information, contact Lori Anne Neiger, lneiger@bnl.gov or call 631-344-3035.