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24 April 2013

Cancer-zapping spin-off from CERN collider bought

The giant particle-smashing machine run by CERN outside Geneva is not only unravelling the mysteries of the universe, it may also be opening up new avenues to treat cancer.

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The giant particle-smashing machine run by CERN outside Geneva is not only unravelling the mysteries of the universe, it may also be opening up new avenues to treat cancer.

Now a small British company, Advanced Oncotherapy, aims to tap into that know-how through a small deal to acquire a CERN spin-off business developing new forms of radiotherapy to fight tumours.

The spin-off, known as Adam, was established in 2007 by CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, to build low-cost innovative accelerators for proton beam therapy (PBT) and conventional radiotherapy.

The advantages

Unlike traditional X-rays, PBT can blast tumours without damage to surrounding tissue - a particular benefit when cancer occurs in the brain, spine or eyes.

Protons are fundamental particles found inside the atomic nucleus and can be focused much more accurately than X-rays. The big problem is that the large accelerators needed to make them are very expensive, raising questions over cost-effectiveness.

In future, scientists at CERN believe they can make them far more cheaply by using a new kind of linear accelerator. The approach is expected to reduce costs by around two-thirds, according to a spokesman for Advanced Oncotherapy.

Advanced Oncotherapy will pay for Adam in shares, giving CERN scientist Alberto Colussi, who founded the CERN business, a continuing stake in the technology.

Reuters

 

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