Sunday, March 29, 2009

Laser Accelerated Radiotherapy: Is It On Its Way to the Clinic?

One of the newest candidates for delivering radiotherapy may be largely unknown to the world of oncology.

Laser accelerated subatomic particles for the treatment of superficial tumors may afford the tissue-sparing precision of proton therapy—another fledgling technology—without the unwieldy size or cost. "Though most clinicians have never heard of laser accelerated radiotherapy, the technology is promising enough that we spent four years investigating it," said Eric Horwitz, M.D., acting chairman and clinical director of the Fox Chase department of radiation oncology.

Budget cuts have put the Fox Chase program on hold, but studies in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere continue. In Germany, Christoph Keitel, Ph.D. led a group from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg that recently concluded several types of laser beams could accelerate protons "to the energies required for cancer therapy."

Read the story by Mike Martin for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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