Developing cutting-edge technologies to help fight cancer

Friday, 7 March, 2014
Ion Beam Applications is developing and commercialising cutting-edge technologies and pharmaceutical and customised solutions in the field of oncology, which are used by some 3 000 hospitals worldwide. Its innovative proton therapy solution has been designed from the ground up to meet the needs of patients and clinicians. Its smaller footprint means it is more affordable, easier to install and operate and offers a shorter time to first patient treated.
Every year 3.2 million Europeans are diagnosed with various forms of cancer. Although great advances continue to be made in research and treatment, the disease remains a serious health concern. The European Union has therefore been resolute in taking action on various fronts to both save life and improve cancer survivors' quality of life.

One such initiative saw the European Investment Bank (EIB), with financial backing from the European Union; provide financing to Belgian multi-national Ion Beam Applications (IBA) for its research and development projects in the fields of cancer diagnosis and therapy.

With a EUR 50m loan under the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), a joint European Commission-EIB programme for RDI projects, the project matches the EU objective of establishing a competitive knowledge-based economy and the EIB’s priority objective of backing RDI in Europe.

Supporting effective non-invasive treatments

Conducted between 2010 and 2013, activities comprise research, development, clinical trials and regulatory approvals related to the development of new products and to optimising and further developing existing products and equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

IBA is heavily investing in proton therapy, which is considered by many as one of the most effective forms of non-invasive cancer treatments.

“Proton therapy is increasingly seen as the ultimate radiotherapy for cancer due to its superior dose distribution,” says IBA Chief Financial Officer Jean-Marc Bothy. “Higher doses can be delivered to the tumour without increasing the risks of side effects and long term complications, improving outcomes and quality of life for patients,” explains Bothy.

Unfortunately, up until now, few patients have benefited from this type of treatment due to its high cost and size. However, thanks to the RSFF financing, IBA has gone some way to changing the perception with its therapy.

Bringing affordable solutions to market

The technology is bringing an affordable solution on the market to make proton therapy more accessible for more hospitals worldwide and therefore more patients.

“Physicians will be in a position to deliver the most effective clinical cancer treatment known as Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy to the benefit of patients. This new proton therapy system in not only simpler to install and operate, it is also more easily financeable,” adds Bothy.

Prototypes have already been developed and according to Bothy, this cutting edge technology will be available to hospitals worldwide as early as 2015.

Crucially, this innovation could save many lives in the years to come. In addition, support for such innovative therapies helps to cut healthcare costs and make sure Europe’s industry keeps its competitive edge in the future.

Ion Beam Applications
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Developing cutting-edge technologies to help fight