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FLASH radiotherapy is a novel technique that shows great potential in improving cancer treatment. So far, research into FLASH radiotherapy has been restricted to preclinical research, a single phase 1 veterinarian study and a single treatment of a patient. However, the research is quickly moving towards clinical trials, with several veterinarian studies running in Europe and in the US, and with clinical equipment being upgraded to deliver FLASH radiotherapy safely. Most studies on FLASH has used electron beams of several (4-20) Mega electron volt (MeV). These beams only penetrate a few cm in tissue. Thus, limiting clinical treatments to superficial tumours or using intra-operative strategies. To reach deep-seated tumours, electron beams of much higher energies is needed or beams of different particles. Clinical proton beams can fairly easy be modified to enable FLASH radiotherapy and recently Varian announced that they have been issued an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the first-ever clinical trial of FLASH radiotherapy, which has now been activated.

In this DPhil/PhD project, using state-of-the-art treatment planning systems, you will investigate how proton FLASH radiotherapy can be delivered in an optimal way to various tumour sites. How the treatments compare to other treatment techniques, e.g. VMAT and IMPT, regarding dose distribution, delivery accuracy and patient perception. Your work will be essential for getting the first UK based clinical trial on FLASH radiotherapy approved.

Training opportunities:

FLASH radiation is a novel radiotherapy technique that show great potential in improving cancer treatment. However, very little is known about the biological mechanisms behind the highly beneficial FLASH effect. Our research group aims to identify these mechanisms, explain the effect, and to find the optimal way of implementing the technique in clinical practice. We have a linear accelerator dedicated to preclinical research, which is capable of delivering conventional as well as ultra-high dose rate irradiation, i.e. FLASH irradiation.

Recent publications:

  • JD. Wilson, EM. Hammond, GS. Higgins, K. Petersson. “Ultra-High Dose Rate (FLASH) Radiotherapy: Silver Bullet or Fool's Gold?” Front. Oncol. 9, 1563 (2020). 10.3389/fonc.2019.01563
  • G Adrian, E Konradsson, M Lempart, S Bäck, C Ceberg, K Petersson. “The FLASH effect depends on oxygen concentration” The British Journal of Radiology, 93, 1106 (2020). 10.1259/bjr.20190702
  • P. Montay-Gruel*, K. Petersson*, M. Jaccard, G. Boivin, J.F. Germond, B. Petit, R. Doenlen, V. Favaudon, F. Bochud, C. Bailat, J. Bourhis, M.C. Vozenin, “Irradiation in a Flash: Unique Sparing of Spatial Memory in mice after Whole Brain Irradiation with dose rates above 100 Gy/s.” Radiother Oncol 124, 365-369 (2017). *Equal contribution. 10.1016/j.radonc.2017.05.003