A novel future ion therapy accelerator

Proton therapy is the most rapidly-expanding method of radiotherapy, with a number of new proton treatment centres being established around world that are primarily based on high-intensity isochronous cyclotrons; an example of this is the recently-installed 250 MeV Varian cyclotron at which a research beamline has been installed where Dr. Appleby and Dr. Owen are carrying out research into rapid beam delivery.

Although proton therapy is now well-established clinically with over 100 treatment rooms presently in operation, there are comparatively few facilities that offer radiotherapy with other ions. There are several European and Japanese facilities that concentrate on carbon therapy and which utilise synchrotrons, but there is a need to establish a future design of facility that can offer more rapid treatment and also offer variable ion type. There is as yet no consensus as to the correct technology, but it is likely that either synchrotrons or FFAs (Fixed-Field, Alternating-Gradient) accelerators will offer the best performance. We propose to conduct a study of a compact accelerator that offers rapid variation of p, He and C ions in a single accelerator; the likely best option for this is an FFA based on the previous PAMELA proposal, but where we will simplify the design to allow it to be more cost-effective.

The design will be informed by the significant experience of the supervisors, who have all worked extensively on FFA systems that include the PAMELA medical FFA project. We also maintain collaboration with the CBETA project that has recently demonstrated wide energy acceptance in a comparable system designed for a separate application. We will also engage with CERN and its HITRI/NIMMS project, and the PhD student will join the SEE collaboration toward a future facility for South-East Europe. Both the UK and Australian clinical communities have held discussions about the potential of ion therapy facilities in each country, and we hope that the work will assist in informing decisions about a future UK and Australian facilities.

The outcome of the PhD project will be an optics design and performance estimation of a candidate ring for multi-ion delivery.

Travel funds will be used to facilitate visits to the UK to gain experience at existing proton therapy centres, and to augment the student’s experience through working with other researchers in the Cockcroft Institute who carry out a large programme of related projects in medical accelerators.

Dr Suzie Sheehy, Faculty of Science, The University of Melbourne

Dr Robert Appleby,  The University of Manchester