MIT proton treatment could replace x-ray use in radiation therapy – MIT News Office

By , September 18, 2006 7:35 pm

MIT proton treatment could replace x-ray use in radiation therapy – MIT News Office

Scientists at MIT, collaborating with an industrial team, are creating a proton-shooting system that could revolutionize radiation therapy for cancer. The goal is to get the system installed at major hospitals to supplement, or even replace, the conventional radiation therapy now based on x-rays.

The fundamental idea is to harness the cell-killing power of protons — the naked nuclei of hydrogen atoms — to knock off cancer cells before the cells kill the patient. Worldwide, the use of radiation treatment now depends mostly on beams of x-rays, which do kill cancer cells but can also harm many normal cells that are in the way.

What the researchers envision — and what they’re now creating — is a room-size atomic accelerator costing far less than the existing proton-beam accelerators that shoot subatomic particles into tumors, while minimizing damage to surrounding normal tissues. They expect to have their first hospital system up and running in late 2007.

Room-size atomic accelerator.  Now there is a downsized item for you.  And gonna have it in the same room as the patient being treated.  I hope they make it work.  From a couple of things I have read the proton systems do a lot less damage to the surrounding tissue than the x-ray systems now in use.

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