Commonwealth Government to support establishment of Australia's first Proton Therapy Unit

08 May 2017
Commonwealth Government to support establishment of Australia's first Proton Therapy Unit

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is delighted that the Federal Government has committed $68 million to support the establishment of the Proton Beam Therapy facility within SAHMRI 2, as part of the 2017 Federal Budget.

SAHMRI 2 will expand our capacity to conduct ground-breaking research, and dramatically increase Australian patients’ access to the best cancer care. 

This major investment is a significant boost for Australian health and medical research, and for patients across the country who are set to benefit from this cutting-edge technology.

Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) is radiation therapy that uses heavier particles (protons) instead of x-rays, which are used in conventional radiotherapy.

PBT is not currently available for cancer patients within Australia. As a result, Australia is falling behind countries in Asia, North America and Europe in the delivery of this technology and healthcare treatment for its population. Currently, Australians travel overseas to access necessary PBT, with the financial assistance of the Australian Government.

The Proton Therapy Machine to be installed in the SAHMRI 2 building will be utilised for a mixture of research, education, public patient treatment and private patient treatment.

PBT is useful for treating tumors that are near important parts of the body, such as near the eye, the brain, and the spinal cord. It is also used for treating children, because it lessens the chance of harming healthy, developing tissue. Importantly, this initiative gives patients access to the care they need right here in Australia.

SAHMRI’s Executive Director, Professor Steve Wesselingh, said that this announcement will further enhance the link to direct patient care and the opportunity to translate research findings directly to improvements in health service and clinical service models.

“South Australia will be able to attract the best and the brightest researchers and clinicians to utilise the proton therapy unit,” Professor Wesselingh said. 

“This will to put us on the global stage to attract academic talent and grants, and enable us to service the Australasian region for proton therapy treatment that has not been available previously.

“Having the Proton Therapy Unit housed within SAHMRI 2 increases the capabilities of the South Australian Health and Biomedical Precinct, enhancing the existing strengths offered by the co-location of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, SAHMRI and the universities.

“SAHMRI is incredibly proud to be a leader of this project to establish a world leading proton therapy facility that will impact everything from teaching, clinical studies directly to patient care and treatment.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Federal Government for their support of, and belief in this project.”