Proton Therapy Research
Research Projects

Proton Therapy Research Projects

Radiation therapy is widely used in the treatment of cancer. Proton radiation therapy is advanced and precise, delivering a high dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing the healthy tissues and organs nearby. This leads to a lower risk of short-term side effects and long-term complications. Although proton radiation therapy is already in use, there is still more to learn and improve.

Our researchers are studying proton radiation dosing and delivery, including the novel ultra-high dose rate FLASH, as well as conventional proton treatment using different types of cells, tissues, and organs. The work they are doing results in a better understanding of the capabilities of proton radiation and will ultimately improve patient treatments.

Our researchers include scientists, clinicians, research assistants, and graduate students from multiple divisions including Oncology, Experimental Hematology and Cancer Biology, Neurology, Neonatology and Pulmonary Biology, Nephrology, and Radiation Oncology. They work alongside our team of radiation physicists and biologists to design and conduct proton irradiation experiments on their in-vivo and in-vitro samples at the Liberty Proton Therapy Research Center. They are very active, collectively completing approximately 50 irradiations per year, presenting their data and findings at national conferences, and publishing manuscripts in high profile journals.

Currently, our pre-clinical researchers are focused on:

  • Maximizing benefits and sparing effects of proton therapy and FLASH proton therapy on surrounding healthy tissues
  • Targeting various tumor types with proton therapy
  • Understanding the effects of conventional and FLASH proton therapies on tumor microenvironment
  • Comparing effects of proton therapy versus photon therapy on various cell lines and tumor types
  • Developing in-vivo and in-vitro models of human disease for future studies of proton therapy treatment
Researcher at the proton therapy center looking at data on a computer monitor.

In addition, our physicians and clinical researchers completed the first in-human FLASH proton therapy clinical trial assessing the feasibility of FLASH proton treatment for patients with bone metastases. A second clinical trial to evaluate toxicities of FLASH radiotherapy treatment and pain relief in patients with thoracic bone metastases is now underway.