The proton research room at the National Health Service (NHS) proton beam therapy (PBT) clinical facility at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester is located in the 4th gantry space in the clinical PBT facility which started treating patients in December 2018. The equipment supplier is Varian and the design is a superconducting cyclotron with space for four gantries. The Christie clinical PBT Centre has three state of the art 360° gantry rooms for clinical PBT treatment and a fourth room of equal size for research. The clinical gantries are used to move the proton beam around the patient so that the tumour can be irradiated by beams from different angles (to maximise damage to the tumour and minimise damage to normal tissue). The research room does not have a gantry, as it is easier, simpler and cheaper to move the research sample in front of the beam, rather than moving the beam around the sample.
The research room has two horizontal beamlines to deliver the proton beam to research end-stations. Beamline A has an engineering scanning nozzle capable of pencil beam scanning and emulates the beam delivery in the clinical gantries. Beamline B is being designed for in vivo preclinical research and will be developed with an imaging end-station and a nozzle that is capable of delivering the small spots needed for pre-clinical research to emulate the PBT spots used in patients. This beamline is funded through CRUK Manchester RADNET funding. Both beamlines A and B are capable of PBT FLASH delivery. Research end-stations, at the end of each beamline, are interchangeable modular units. Each research end-station is designed for a specific experimental need, for example the radiobiology module (funded by CRUK £265k) shown below and developed as part of JRA in WP7. This design philosophy ensures maximum flexibility as different research end-stations can be designed for different applications (this is similar to the approach used by large synchrotron facilities).
Outside the irradiation room is a control room and bio-preparation area with facilities for tissue culture, microscopy and hypoxia cabinet. Stage of the art high throughput and high resolution imaging is available in the nearby CRUK Manchester Cancer Research Centre as are facilities for genomics, proteomics and metabolomics.
The beam energy can be varied between 70MeV - 250 MeV. A range of water, tissue equivalent anthropomorphic and zoomorphic phantoms are available. Standard PBT equipment such as a Lynx is available for measuring beam spots and scanning patterns. A water phantom is available for Bragg peak measurements at different energies together with equipment for dosimetry measurements. We have access to the research versions of the clinical treatment planning systems Eclipse and Velocity. Equipment is also being developed for proton CT and prompt gamma measurements.
The proton therapy research group numbers over 40 and includes a dedicated engineer. The group has expertise in the clinical, life and physical sciences and engineering.
Measurement of DNA damage and repair, through surrogate markers such as gamma-H2AX, as a function of position in the proton SOBP
Measurement of cell survival following proton irradiation under various oxygen tensions using the Don Whitley Scientific end station
High-throughput cell irradiation (a mix of up to 36 T75 flasks & 96-well plates) controlled through Fanuc 6-axis robotic arm
Measurement of oxygen depletion under high-dose rate irradiation
Analysis of range uncertainty through prompt-gamma measurement
Contact: Prof Ranald Mackay (Ranald.firstname.lastname@example.org)
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