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Proton therapy goes mainstream

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | October 07, 2015
From the October 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Companies like IBA and Mevion Medical Systems have designed smaller footprint, single room, proton solutions (ProteusONE and MevionS250, respectively) that can treat a lower volume of patients at a fraction of the price. Single room systems are the biggest growth market in the U.S. and industry insiders credit that to the country’s relatively mature proton therapy install base.
With so many facilities already operating, emerging U.S. proton centers do not anticipate the clinical demand to necessitate multiple rooms. This is not the case in most countries, however, where a multi-room facility — and its superior capacity — is still the more logical investment.

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In late April, the Ackerman Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Florida, became the first privately owned proton therapy center in the world. The center’s MevionS250 was only the second to become operational. Since then two more units have been installed in the U.S. and another three are in the pipeline.
“After only three months of operation, we are now running at a rate of 350 patients per year in Jacksonville,” says Joe Jachinowski, CEO of Mevion, “That exceeds the treatment rate, to the best of our knowledge, on a per room basis, of any place in the world today.”

IBA installed its first ProteusPLUS in 2001, at Massachusetts General Hospital, and since built up the largest install base in the industry. The ProteusPLUS is in use at 19 locations throughout the world. IBA’s single-room solution, ProteusONE, features integrated cone beam CT and is treating patients in Shreveport, Louisiana, at the Willis-Knighton Health System.
“Over 12 months we put almost 20 rooms into clinical use,” says Olivier Legrain, CEO of IBA, adding that the company has sold 36 systems in total. His company reported an increase of order-intake of 86 percent from the first half of 2014 in comparison to the first half of 2015.

Hitachi is also heavily engaged in the proton therapy market, with the majority of its systems installed in Japan. The MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center in Texas uses a Hitachi system and the company will also soon have two systems operating for the Mayo Clinic, and another at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
Varian, perhaps the major manufacturer with the fewest facilities in operation, has what Mitch Latinkic, the company’s vice president of marketing, calls “the most advanced install base anywhere in the proton therapy field.” Its ProBeam is new enough that it was designed specifically for pencil beam scanning. Like IBA, Varian also offers cone beam CT for treatment imaging, something the company initially offered on its linear accelerator, TruBeam.

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