Future hadrontherapy: with ELIMED, INFN technology gets to Prague
Hadrontherapy – an innovative technique based on the use of particle beams for the treatment of cancer – takes an important step forward with the inauguration of the ELIMAIA infrastructure in Prague.
The project – with Italy’s fundamental contribution of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics-INFN – aims at testing the possibility to treat cancer with accelerated particle beams by using non-conventional laser beams, based on plasma technology.
The key component of ELIMAIA, which stands for ELI Multidisciplinary Applications of Laser-Ion Acceleration, is ELIMED: the beamline of the first hall for preclinical activities of the new hadrontherapy center, currently under construction in Prague.
The ELIMED beamline was developed at the Southern National Laboratory-LNS of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics-INFN, under the ELI-Extreme Light Infrastructure European project.
“The development of ELIMED was possible thanks to the experience of the National Southern Laboratory, where the first Italian centre of protontherapy (CATANA) has been operating since 2002 and thanks to the skills developed in medical physics and in particular in hadrontherapy by INFN researchers” said Pablo Cirrone, head of the LNS team that designed and developed the project.
The beamline is hosted at an experimental hall dedicated to the transport, selection and diagnostics of proton and ion beams accelerated by using very high-power lasers, to be used in hadrontherapy and radiobiological applications. Once in operation, the hall will be the most complete hall of this kind across the world, with advanced instruments for research in physics, dosimetry and for pre-clinical activities.
The project scientific objective is to test the possibility to use protons generated by an unconventional laser source in the treatment of cancer. In particular, the Prague centre will accelerate particle beams in plasma, rather than in particle accelerators, by using the matter-laser interaction.
“ELIMAIA will be the first beamline entirely dedicated to users interested in investigating multidisciplinary applications with such non-conventional ion bunches and the ELIMED section will be crucial to deliver a well-controlled dose on user samples”, said Daniele Margarone, leader of the Testing and Research Program of the ELIMAIA project.
The ELIMAIA infrastructure will enter full operation in 2019, paving the way to the international scientific community for multidisciplinary testing in biology, medicine, chemistry, materials science, engineering and archaeology.