Slovenian technology improves proton therapy for cancer treatment

An innovative product which optimises the accuracy of proton therapy in treating cancer has been developed in Slovenia. The product, an advanced universal control system, will significantly improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment with proton therapy, and lower its cost.

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The screen of the control system developed under the APTACS project ©Cosylab d.d./Erik Lovrič 2018 The screen of the control system developed under the APTACS project ©Cosylab d.d./Erik Lovrič 2018

" The goal of the operation was to develop an innovative technology solution ‘Advanced control system for medical accelerators for curing cancer with proton therapy’, which will significantly improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment with proton therapy. The result of the operation was the first advanced and precise universal control system developed specifically for proton therapy that will take into account all the specifics of such therapy and the functioning of such systems. "

Andreja Smole. Project coordinator Cosylab d.d

Proton therapy is an improved form of radiotherapy which uses protons to destroy cancerous tissue. The accelerator and the beam which deliver the radiotherapy treatment are now being controlled and synchronised by the advanced control system the project developed. This ensures reliability, accuracy and consistency in speed and operation. 

The project linked three Slovenian companies with an established track record in the accelerator market, creating a long-term collaboration that will allow them to continue developing new products. They identified the need for an advanced control system in proton therapy to improve treatment efficacy. Ways were found to increase the availability of this therapy, and to lower the price of the system.

Cost-effective

Cancer is one of the two most common causes of death in Slovenia. In 2008, 12.7 million people in the world got sick with cancer and 7.6 million died from it. Proton therapy is successful because it releases most of its energy at a precise location and at the exact tissue depths of the cancer cells. It has fewer side effects than radiotherapy with X-rays. 

One of the biggest challenges in the proton therapy market, however, is the development of a cost-effective solution which gives patients greater access to this therapy. The accuracy of implementation and the speed of switching between different operating modes have been a technical challenge.
The project ensured that the control system’s parts are compatible with the components of other manufacturers, to ensure wider applicability. 

Competitive edge

The upgraded proton control is a state-of-the-art, high-tech system. It has achieved a competitive advantage over other systems in the market because of its greater speed and precision, better connectivity, reliability and operational safety. 

A total of 29 experts from three partner companies, COSYLAB d.d., EMSISO d.o.o. and iSYSTEM Labs d.o.o. collaborated on the project, allowing them to gain experience and knowledge. It is expected that the developed product will contribute to income and growth for the partners.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “APTACS” is EUR 1 288 363, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 382 141 through the “Implementation of European cohesion policies” National Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Research and innovation”.