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Varian books $50 million Russia proton order

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | February 16, 2012
Varian gets new proton equipment order.
Varian Medical Systems Inc. has booked a $50 million order to outfit a new two-gantry proton therapy center in St. Petersburg, Russia, with its ProBeam treatment system. The center, once up and running in 2016, would be the second facility in St. Petersburg to offer patients the high-tech cancer-fighting treatment and one of only a handful of such places in all of Russia.

In an announcement Thursday, Varian said the two-room PTC St. Petersburg Center of Nuclear Medicine will be managed by the International Institute of Biological Systems Diagnostic and Treatment Center, a privately owned chain of radiation therapy and diagnostic imaging centers. The institute, founded in 2003, runs clinics in 39 cities throughout the Russian Federation, according to information on its website.

"We're very pleased to be able to bring Varian's cutting edge, clinically advanced and reliable technology to patients," Dr. Arkadi Stolpner, president and co-founder of the institute, said in a statement.

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The news comes only a few weeks after Palo Alto, Calif.-based Varian announced it booked another $77 million order to equip an in-the-works proton therapy center in Saudi Arabia. Closer to home, Varian also signed an $88 million deal last year to install its ProBeam system in the Scripps Proton Therapy Center, under development in San Diego.

In Russia, Varian expects to start installing the equipment, which includes a superconducting cyclotron, robotic positioning couches and treatment planning software, in 2014. The value of the order, nearly $50 million, excludes the cost of service, Varian said. The order was placed by New York-based Owen Kane Oncology Equipment Inc. (Full disclosure: Philip Jacobus, Owen Kane's president, also serves as the president of DOTmed.com.)

The PTC St. Petersburg Center of Nuclear Medicine is now at least the second proton therapy facility in development in Russia. In October 2010, Belgian cyclotron-maker Ion Beam Applications S.A. announced it was equipping a two-room proton therapy center in Dimitrovgrad. That center will start treating patients by 2014, IBA said in its 2010 announcement.

Russia's three existing facilities capable of offering proton medical treatments, in Moscow, Dubna and St. Petersburg, are all part of scientific research institutes, according to information provided by the Particle Therapy Co-operative Group on its website.

How proton therapy works

Proton therapy works by firing protons into cancerous tissue to destroy it. Because of the nature of protons, the radiation dose delivered in the treatment rapidly falls off away from the target. Theoretically, this means fewer side effects from treatment, as healthy tissue would receive less radiation. However, the centers are expensive to build, and there are only nine currently in operation in the U.S., although several are in development or under construction.

Check back next week when DOTmed will offer an exclusive look at the in-development St. Petersburg facility.

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