June 4, 2015
MIT will be the lead research institution in a project to develop ironless superconducting cyclotrons, an effort that will make highly sought-after proton radiotherapy cancer treatment more available. The Institute's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) will be collaborating with ProNova Solutions, an organization focused on developing and providing proton-beam technology. A proton beam, when used for cancer treatment, can be more precisely shaped to the size and thickness of tumors than traditional radiotherapy, while considerably reducing damage to surrounding tissue and reducing or eliminating side effects. This type of treatment is especially effective for children with tumors in the brain, head, neck, spinal cord, heart, lungs and other areas that are sensitive to radiation.
Joseph Minervini, head of the Technology and Engineering Division at the PSFC, noted that superconducting cyclotron particle accelerators are increasingly being employed for proton-beam radiotherapy treatment (PBRT). “Using superconductivity in a cyclotron design can reduce its mass an order of magnitude from conventional, resistive magnet machines,” he says. “This significantly lowers the overall cost of the device and surrounding building infrastructure, while also greatly reducing operating costs.”