St Jude Children’s Research Hospital has opened the world’s first proton therapy centre in Memphis, Tennessee, US, which is dedicated to treating children with cancer.
The new centre, St Jude Red Frog Events Proton Therapy Center, has been built with an investment of $90m.
When designing the centre, St Jude Department of Radiation Oncology chair Thomas Merchant and other researchers worked closely with Hitachi, which produced the hospital’s proton beam system.
The system includes a compact design with a footprint that is 40% smaller than conventional proton beam therapy systems.
The centre has 190° half gantries that provide efficient and spacious treatment room environments suited specifically for paediatric care.
All rooms in the centre are equipped with spot-scanning irradiation, a technology for which Hitachi received the first FDA premarket notification special 510(k) clearance in 2007.
At the centre, patients are currently being treated using precisely delivered, high-energy particles called protons to kill or shrink tumours, while minimising damage to healthy tissue and organs.
For patients with brain tumours and certain other cancers, research suggests proton beam therapy may be more effective than conventional radiation at preventing the growth and spread of tumours, while reducing the risk of treatment-related side effects.
St Jude president James Downing said: "St Jude researchers first used radiation therapy to turn the tide against paediatric cancer decades ago and have continued to help define its optimal use in treatment.
"The opening of the St Jude Red Frog Events Proton Therapy Center marks the next chapter of radiation therapy at St Jude, one that I believe will be another milestone moment in our fight against paediatric cancer."
The centre includes the linear accelerator, a synchrotron, a three-storey rotating gantry, powerful magnets and other equipment necessary to generate and deliver high-energy protons to tumours using small, carefully calibrated beams.
The system features advanced imaging technology, including cone-beam CT to provide a 3D image of the patient’s anatomy to achieve precise positioning for treatment.
The centre also contains three proton therapy treatment rooms, treatment preparation and recovery rooms for patients.
Staff at the new centre includes specialists from oncology, radiation therapy, imaging, nursing and other disciplines.
Red Frog Events co-CEO Ryan Kunkel said: "Since we heard about St Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s plans for the proton therapy centre and the remarkable patient outcomes it could provide, we knew we wanted to make an impact in a big way.
"This revolutionary centre will change the lives of so many families and young patients, and we couldn’t be more proud to stand here today and be part of this."
The new centre is located in the Kay Research and Care Center, which opened this year and also houses a surgery and intensive care unit, the Marlo Thomas Center for Global Education and Collaboration, and other facilities.
Officials of St Jude plan to gradually increase the number of children treated at the newly opened centre.
In addition to brain tumours, proton therapy is used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma and solid tumours as Ewing sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma and retinoblastoma.
By 2018, officials expect 80% of children receiving radiation therapy at St Jude will receive proton beam therapy.
Image: The system features advanced imaging technology, including cone-beam CT to provide a 3D image of the patient’s anatomy to achieve precise positioning for treatment. Photo: courtesy of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.