Siemens to install particle therapy technology at Heidelberg ion beam therapy centre


7 April 2005. First combined particle therapy solution in Europe will be used for treating tumours with carbon ions and protons.

Siemens Medical Solutions has announced the upcoming installation at the University Clinic Heidelberg (Germany) of the first combined particle therapy system in Europe. This system, which will be capable of treating tumours with both carbon ions and protons, is expected to begin treating patients in 2007.

"With this step, we have met the important technical prerequisites that allow us to begin treating patients with tumours that up to now, have been considered to be incurable," explained Imtraut Gurkan, Director of Administration of the University Clinic Heidelberg. "By using different particle therapies, a wider variety of tumour sites may be treated."

The treatment facility will include space for three rooms that can treat patients with carbon ions and protons, as well as facilities for approximately 80 support staff who will handle patient care and logistics, as well as research and development. The facility is expected to treat at least 1,000 patients each year, mostly on an outpatient basis. The primary treatments will be tumours located in the brain and prostate, as well as soft tissue sarcomas.

The use of particles like carbon ions and protons provides treatments that are highly accurate and have a high biological effectiveness. The particles are accelerated to a very high speed by a variable energy accelerator. They are then deposited directly into the tumour, where they cause irreparable damage to the tumour cells while sparing the normal surrounding tissues.

"Siemens is pleased to have the University Clinic Heidelberg as our partner in this endeavour," stated Walter Folberth, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Siemens Medical Solutions and Head of the Particle Therapy Division. "Particle therapy treatments have shown excellent success rates and the University Clinic has established an excellent reputation for particle therapy treatments with their existing facility in Darmstadt. As the first European centre to offer both proton and carbon ion treatments, we expect that a new benchmark in treatment outcomes will be established."

Scientific, technical and clinical prerequisites for the Heidelberg Ion Beam Therapy Centre (HIT) were a joint project of the University Clinic Heidelberg, the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) and the Research Centre Rossendorf (FZR).


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