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'God particle' technology could radicalize cancer treatments

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Researchers who discovered the "God particle" - said to be the building block of the universe, could shortly revolutionize cancer treatment for tens of thousands of patients. The team at the Cern laboratory in Geneva is planning to slash the cost of an alternative to debilitating radiotherapy that is more far more effective, less invasive and far less damaging.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The researchers also hope to open U.K.-based treatment centers within three years.

Of the 320,000 new cancer diagnoses in the U.K. each year, around half receive radiation treatment. Of those, experts estimate a quarter, or 40,000 would benefit from proton beam therapy.

The new method treats tumors with high-powered beams of positively charged particles. The procedure is more effective than traditional radiotherapy and leaves healthy tissue undamaged.

Those needing PBT are flown to the U.S. or Switzerland, at an average cost of 90,000 to the NHS. As such, only a handful of patients benefit. Two NHS proton therapy centers in London and Manchester are planned for 2017 but will only have the capacity to treat 1,500 patients a year.

In response, the Cern team plans to open the first centre in the UK in 2016, which would treat 12,000 private and NHS patients annually.

"This is a game-changer. Bringing a new, more effective cancer treatment to the masses," Dr. Mike Sinclair, who heads Advanced Oncotherapy, a London-based AIM listed company says.

"PBT offers a significant improvement for patients with cancer than conventional radiotherapy. Everybody recognizes the advantages of the technique, but so far, the big problem has always been cost.

"The machine developed by Cern has very significant clinical advantages and it will cost a third of equivalent equipment currently available."

Scientists at Cern last year found the Higgs boson particle, the particle they believe holds the universe together and gives it substance; nearly 50 years after Newcastle-born Professor Peter Higgs predicted its existence.

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