By Theresa Edwards Makrush
The cross-Atlantic voyage is underway carrying the new cyclotron and gantry to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville. The equipment left the IBA factory in Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, on Sept. 24 and was loaded onto a ship in Antwerp for departure Oct. 13. Its estimated arrival date in Jacksonville at Jaxport is Oct. 25.
Together, the cyclotron and the gantry are the largest components of the new Proteus®ONE compact single-room proton therapy system. They will be housed in the 10,000-square-foot expansion, adjacent and connected to the original UF Health Proton Therapy Institute building.
The cyclotron is the accelerator that speeds up the protons used in proton therapy. According to IBA, it is a specially designed superconducting synchro-cyclotron – a new technology that reduces the accelerator weight and energy consumption by a factor of four. It weighs 55 tons, roughly the weight of 3.5 standard school buses. In comparison the cyclotron used in the existing facility since 2006 weighs 220 tons, roughly the weight of a 757 airplane.
The gantry is the 100-ton machine that rotates around the patient in the treatment room to deliver the proton beam. The Proteus®ONE delivers the proton beam to the target using Pencil Beam Scanning (PBS). PBS delivers Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy, a technique that conforms to the size and shape of the treatment area and heightens dose uniformity, especially for complex tumors. It is equipped with Image Guided Proton Therapy, a technology used for accurate patient positioning and rapid detection of anatomic changes throughout the course of treatment.
“Once the equipment arrives and is installed in mid-November, we will have completed about 70 percent of the expansion project,” said Stuart Klein, executive director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “The majority of time leading up to completion will be spent assembling the equipment, conducting quality assurance and commissioning it for patient treatment.”
The addition is phase two of a $39 million, three-phase upgrade and expansion project announced in early 2016. Phase one was completed in mid-2016 and included upgrades to the existing facility: rolling floors under the treatment tables in two gantries, a new imaging system and a new treatment planning system. Phase three involves retrofitting one treatment gantry in the existing facility with a dedicated PBS nozzle.
When completed, the facility will have five treatment rooms – four gantries and one fixed beam – and two cyclotrons. It is estimated the addition will increase patient capacity by 25 percent.