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Accelerators for medicine

CERN signs a new collaboration agreement with industry to transfer accelerator technology to the medical field


This week CERN signed a new agreement with one of its spin-off companies, ADAM SA (Application of Detectors and Accelerators to Medicine), to collaborate on the construction of an accelerator for cancer treatment.

A team of experts in accelerator and detector technology from CERN founded the company with Italian entrepreneur Alberto Colussi in 2007. ADAM aimed to capitalize on the know-how and infrastructure that CERN provides to build innovative accelerators for proton therapy and for conventional radiotherapy.

Since then, ADAM's research and development activities have focussed on two main fields: the design and construction of compact linear accelerators for conventional radiotherapy, and of compact linear accelerators for proton therapy. Both research areas were inspired by studies conducted at the TERA Foundation, a non-profit institution created in 1992 to develop radiotherapy techniques using hadron particles.

So far, the collaboration between CERN and ADAM has resulted in the construction of an accelerating unit that accelerates protons from 30 to 41 MeV. This next phase of the collaboration - a newly established synergy between ADAM, CERN and Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO), a British company active in the field of cancer treatment - will produce other units to complete the accelerator complex for the proton-therapy centre.

“For CERN the transfer of technology and know-how in the medical field is an important part of the impact of basic science on societal issues,” says director of accelerators and technology Steve Myers. “This partnership is a pragmatic way to share our competences and know-how with industrial partners who are able to bring this innovative medical solutions to the market.”

"It is an extraordinary privilege to work with expert scientists at CERN,” says Mike Sinclair, chief executive officer of AVO. “We look forward to deploying globally affordable proton therapy machines clinically superior to cyclotron and synchrotron alternatives.”