The Institute for research and development on Advanced Radiation Technologies and MedAustron cooperate in the development of highly efficient ion therapy.

On June 5th, 2012 the radART-Institute und MedAustron signed a long-term research cooperation.

This cooperation involves the development of concepts and software for the MedAustron centre built in Wiener Neustadt. MedAustron, a cancer treatment and research centre, is one of the most advanced facilities for research and ion therapy in Europe. Worldwide there only exist three of such centers.The heart of this 200 million-euro investment, which is established and operated from the province of Lower Austria, is a particle accelerator developed in collaboration with CERN. The synchrotron (80 m ring diameter and 700 tons of steel) accelerates the ions to 2/3 the speed of light and applies it precisely to the tumor.

The new ion therapy is a very promising development, which ranks among the absolute top of the range technology. The irradiation of patients who suffer from cancer is done with carbon ions and protons - special forms of radiation with other physical properties than photons (X rays) which are so far used in cancer therapy.

Ions have two very desirable properties: First, a very accurate energy can be given to them, which means that ions enter to the exact depth. In addition, the "heavy" ions, such as carbon ions, are biologically more effective than the photon radiation: they act about thrice stronger on tumor cells, yet gentle to the normal tissue. Therefore it will be possible (in Austria for the first time) to treat anatomically difficult situations and types of tumors, which are not (or not efficient enough) treatable yet.

To applicate the radiation dose exactly to the tumor a patient arrangement with millimeter precision via advanced robotic patient positioning is needed. The scientists of the radART Institute are world-renowned experts in this sector and provide the necessary software package to the total control of a linear accelerator - a further development of the institute's appropriate program "open radART". "open radART" has been developed over many years and is established in clinic mode at the University Clinic for Radiotherapy and Radiation Oncology.

The cooperation with MedAustron provides the largest single research project at the Paracelsus Private Medical University. Using the customized software package of the radART Institute 1400 patients from throughout Austria will be treated and about 24 000 irradiations will be executed per year at the MedAustron Center. In 2015 the first patient in Wiener Neustadt will be irradiated with ions.

The project will open up new possibilities for health care in Austria and it is a new hope in the fight against cancer. Therefore, it is understood primarily as a national opportunity for highly innovative treatments and future-promising researches, which represent an enrichment for each of the 14 Austrian radiotherapy treatment clinics.

For this purpose,
doctors and physicists should be trained in lots of centers, who should then act in Wiener Neustadt and be the "missing link" to the provinces. At the University Clinic for Radiotherapy and Radio-oncology a consultant with a focus on ion beam therapy is currently educated, who will be responsible for the Salzburg patients in Wiener Neustadt from 2016. Since last year, a medical physicist is educated for the future work on MedAustron, too.

Press release PMU