Sumitomo Heavy Industries Achieves Breakthrough in Proton Therapy: High-Intensity Beam Acceleration Promises Faster, More Efficient Cancer Treatment
Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. (SHI), led by President Shinji Shimomura, has made a significant stride in the field of proton therapy systems. The company confirmed the generation of a high-intensity proton beam of 1,000 nA during acceleration tests conducted on its in-house developed superconducting cyclotron. This milestone marks a substantial progression towards the realization of SHI’s next-generation proton therapy system.
In the realm of proton therapy, scanning irradiation has become increasingly utilized in recent years. This method, which involves the precise scanning of thin proton beams conforming to the tumor’s shape, minimizes damage to the surrounding healthy tissues and organs. To effectively treat mobile tumors, such as those in lungs and livers affected by respiratory movement, it is vital to irradiate the tumor swiftly while minimizing motion caused by respiration. This demands high-intensity, ultra-high-speed scanning of the proton beam.
In this regard, SHI’s successful development of a superconducting cyclotron capable of generating a high-intensity proton beam of 1000 nA, a global high for proton therapy systems, is a game-changer. Typically, tumor irradiation with a proton beam is a time-consuming process. However, the newly developed superconducting cyclotron can amplify the proton beam’s intensity over three-fold, reducing the irradiation time by more than two-thirds. Furthermore, the incorporation of superconducting magnets curtails power consumption by 40%, thus enabling more cost-effective operation of the proton therapy system.
SHI’s next steps involve conducting beam tests in combination with the ultra-high-speed scanning technology currently under development. The company is steadfast in its commitment to accelerate product development to broaden the reach of proton therapy – a less invasive form of cancer treatment – to a larger number of patients.