Advanced Technology To Help Treat Cancer
I don't think anyone will disagree when I say that cancer is one of the most terrifying words in the English language. Over a million people in the US will be diagnosed with some form of it by the end of 2017. Many of those diagnosed cases will be eligible for proton therapy but there are currently only 24 proton treatment centers in the US. Why is that?
One reason that there are few proton-treatment centers in the US is because you need a synchrotron (Left Image) or cyclotron to create a sufficiently strong beam of high-energy protons.
ProNova is developing a lower-cost, smaller, lighter, and more energy efficient proton-therapy system called the ProNova SC360 will make proton therapy more available to cancer patients.
It’s doing that by developing a cyclotron using superconducting magnets, a multiplexed delivery system that can deliver the resulting proton beam to as many as five treatment rooms, and a treatment gantry that can securely hold and position the patient while precisely delivering a small proton beam to the tumor with 1mm positioning accuracy.
It takes a lot of real-time control to do this, so ProNova developed the DDS (Dose Delivery System) for the SC360 using three National Instruments embedded controllers, which incorporate a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA for real-time control.
The 3 controllers implement 4 tasks:
- Control the proton beam intensity
- Position the proton beam using scanning magnets
- Monitor delivered dosage to within 1% of the prescribed dose
- Monitor all aspects of the proton beam and shut off the beam in the case of a fault
A treatment plan contains a set of locations that each receive a prescribed radiological dose. The system delivers the high-energy protons to the tumor by scanning the variable-intensity beam back and forth through the tumor volume. Protons can deliver more energy to the tumor and less energy to surrounding healthy tissue. ProNova received FDA approval for the SC360 earlier this year and plans to start treating the first patients later this year at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy in Knoxville, Tennessee.
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