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With approximately 50% of all cancer patients receiving radiotherapy (RT), this contributes towards 40% of curative cancer treatment. Ebeam4therapy proposes a novel, inexpensive RT technique using very high energy electrons (VHEE) that enhances cancer treatment quality and survival rates by reducing damage to healthy tissue. The value proposition of ebeam4therapy is to improve the quality of cancer treatment and survival rate of cancer patients by reducing unwanted radiation damage, also requiring significantly smaller investments.
Problem worth solving
Conventional RT using low-energy electrons is unable to successfully treat deep seated tumours. This is especially true for obese patients, who respond poorly to RT due to low dose delivery to the tumour and increased toxicity to healthy tissue. With the ever-increasing prevalence of obesity, this challenge affects a large and ever-growing proportion of patients worldwide. In such cases, the alternative is to use higher energy particles by Linear Accelerator technologies (LINAC) or proton therapy, but these methods come with large footprint machinery and require huge financial investments.
Ebeam4therapy is based on Laser Plasma Acceleration technology and delivers high quality particle beams with compact laser plasma accelerators in the ideal energy range for VHEE-RT. In prostate cancer, this has been shown to reduce 20% of the ionising radiation in healthy tissues compared to photon IMRT. Furthermore, the required VHEE beam is produced by means of a single laser using a new injection scheme, hence the acceleration machinery required is smaller and simpler.
VHEE-RT is poised to improve outcomes for cancers that are either deep down inside the human body, such as prostate cancer, or in delicate areas where the toxicity of healthy tissue could cause serious side effects, such as head and neck tumours. Prostate cancer is the second most commonly occurring cancer in men. There were 1.3 million new cases worldwide in 2018 and 58% of these were prescribed radiotherapy during the course of treatment. Head & Neck cancer is the sixth most common malignancy worldwide. An estimated 705 781 cases and 358 144 deaths occurred in 2018 due to lip, oral cavity, oropharyngeal, and hypopharyngeal cancers, with radiotherapy being prescribed in 74% of cases.
The technology requires further R&D and the building of a prototype to be taken to clinical trials. This will be accomplished over the next 3 years through an EIC Transition funded project, where Acceler8 is participating as the business champion to develop market readiness. The business model is likely to entail the supply of laser plasma accelerator components to the value chain players in the RT equipment market.
The technology will predominantly compete against LINAC-IMRT, which is in widespread use within the target therapeutic segments. Another major contender is proton therapy, which is also used to target and successfully treat deep-seated tumours.
The advantages of this approach are: Compactness of the machine; High energy tunability, meaning therapy is safer and quicker & more accurate dose delivery; Lower radio-protection costs; Lower installation, infrastructure, beam delivery and operation costs.
Ebeam4therapy is being developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science by award winning, pioneering scientists with decades of experience in the domain of laser plasma acceleration.