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Bates researchers eye proton therapy for cancer

Researchers at MIT's Bates Linear Accelerator Center have begun a collaboration with Texas-based ProTom International to develop and test a new cancer treatment based on proton therapy.

The fundamental idea is to harness the cell-killing power of protons -- the nuclei of hydrogen atoms -- to knock off cancer cells before the cells kill the patient. Protons are useful especially in cases where it is important to minimize damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. ProTom holds the exclusive U.S. rights for one such proton therapy system initially developed in Russia. The MIT-ProTom team aims to apply their results at ProTom cancer treatment centers beginning in 2010.

"We at Bates are excited to participate in a collaboration to improve proton beam therapy with the objective of more effective cancer treatment worldwide," said Robert Redwine, director of Bates and a professor of physics at MIT. The work will be performed under Redwine's direction. Bates is a part of MIT's Laboratory for Nuclear Science.

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