Science & medical experts meet in Adelaide to discuss great potential of particle therapy for cancer

06 Nov 2017
Science & medical experts meet in Adelaide to discuss great potential of particle therapy for cancer

An Australian-first cancer treatment facility was the hot topic at the National Particle Therapy Symposium in Adelaide on Monday. 

The event brought together medical and health experts from across Australia and New Zealand, to discuss emerging advances in patient treatment, clinical trials and technology, including from: 

  • The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO); 
  • The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI); 
  • The NSW Health Western Sydney Local Health District; 
  • The Queensland Health Metro North Hospital and Health Service; and 
  • The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists. 

SAHMRI Executive Director, Professor Steve Wesselingh, said the day was an opportunity for industry leaders to discuss the way forward for particle therapy in Australia. 

“Particle therapy uses a targeted beam of high-energy particles that can kill cancer cells without damaging surrounding healthy tissue,” Professor Wesselingh said. 

“It is a more effective treatment for a range of cancers and is especially beneficial to patients suffering from brain cancer, and infants and children whose organs are still developing. 

“There are more than 70 operational particle therapy facilities around the world, and a further 40 currently under construction. 

“It’s an exciting time for Australia, thanks to significant funding from the Federal Government earlier this year to build the country’s first particle treatment facility in South Australia by 2021, with the first patients to be treated in 2022.” 

Attendees also heard from Dr Takashi Murakami who explained the latest developments of particle therapy for cancer treatments in Japan using carbon ion therapy and real-time motion tracking of the tumour position during treatment. 

Carbon ion therapy is considered a game changer by researchers, for its ability to destroy cancer cells that that are resistant to conventional radiation therapies. 

Japan has been using particle therapy techniques since 1994 and is considered a world-leader in the field. 

ANSTO’s Dr Richard Garrett said the workshops held today contributed to the ongoing conversation about Australia’s particle therapy capabilities. 

“It’s vital to keep the communication lines open between governments, health services, research organisations, universities and Royal Colleges, in order to maximise the best possible outcomes for Australian patients,” Dr Garrett said. 

“We see the ideal model as a landmark national particle therapy and research centre, for both life-changing patient treatment options and research, supported by state-based proton particle therapy facilities. 

“A national particle therapy and research centre would help thousands of Australians now and into the future, and we as heard from Dr Murakami ongoing research is an important component.” 

“It's time for Australia to be part of the next great wave of cancer treatment,” said Dr Garrett. 

Image: L-R: Prof Steve Wesselingh (SAHMRI), Dr Ed Smith (The Christie NHS Foundation, UK), Dr Takeshi Murakami (National Institute for Radiological Science, Japan), Associate Prof Verity Ahern (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists), Shaun Jenkinson (ANSTO).