Radiation therapy is one of the primary weapons in the battle against cancer, but even with the advances we have made, there remains significant room for improvement in radiation-based treatment technologies. Proton therapy is now considered the most advanced form of radiation therapy available for cancer treatment, but the size and cost of currently available proton therapy devices have severely limited the technology's use and availability. The high voltage machines required to generate proton beams are massive-weighing several hundred tons and requiring 90,000 square feet to house. They also cost $100M or more to build. A substantial reduction in the size and cost is required for proton therapy machines to be rendered practical for use in typical cancer treatment centers. Ideally, a proton therapy machine would be miniaturized to the point that it would fit into a standard linac radiation vault and could replace existing photon machines. TPL Inc., in collaboration with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), TomoTherapy Inc., Compact Particle Accelerator Corporation (CPAC) and UC Davis Cancer Center, has defined a technical approach that we believe will allow development of the first low-cost, compact proton-therapy machine. As envisioned, the new device will be an order of magnitude smaller and one-fifth the cost of the machines being used today. The key to developing this next-generation proton-therapy device is an extremely compact accelerator design based on a novel, high-voltage insulating material (dielectric) developed by TPL. This enabling material, developed initially for defense-related pulse-power applications, is a composite structure comprised of a formulated polymer resin and nano-size ceramic particles. The Phase I program was successful in demonstrating feasibility for producing pulse power components that enable development of the envisioned compact proton therapy device. Manufacturability and performance characteristics of the accelerator building blocks were successfully demonstrated. Pulse forming lines were fabricated and tested by TPL Inc. and LLNL to system level specifications. All results support the proposed technical and economic feasibility of TPL's innovative approach to developing the next generation, compact and low cost proton therapy device. Proof of feasibility in the Phase I has set the stage for prototype development and demonstration by TPL and its collaborators. The proposed Phase II project will transition the demonstrated component technology to the development, approval and manufacturing of system level components for """"""""Phase III"""""""" commercialization. We anticipate that success in attaining our goals of substantially reducing cost and size of proton-therapy units will open up a very significant new marketplace in the U.S. and abroad for this type of cancer-treatment device.

Public Health Relevance

Millions of Americans are lost every year to cancer, and although radiation therapy is one of our primary treatment tools for cancer, there remains significant room for improvement with even our best radiation based treatments. Proton therapy is considered the most advanced form of radiation therapy available for cancer treatment, but the size (hundreds of tons with a 90,000 square foot footprint) and cost (more than $100 million to build) of currently available proton therapy devices have severely limited the technology's use. For this project, TPL is teaming with Lawrence Livermore, TomoTherapy Inc., Compact Particle Acceleration Corporation and UC Davis Cancer Center to demonstrate the potential for using TPL's enabling technology to achieve an order of magnitude size reduction and an 80% cost reduction - with the entire effort focused on making next generation proton therapy practical for widespread use throughout the U.S. and internationally.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-SSMI-Q (10))
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Narayanan, Deepa
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Tpl, Inc.
United States
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