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Valencia will host a scientific facility "unique in Spain" to fight cancer


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Valencia will host a scientific facility "unique in Spain" to fight cancer


The Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities, Diana Morant, has announced that the facilities of the Institute of Corpuscular Physics (IFIC), a joint center of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the University of Valencia (UV), in the Scientific Park of the UV in Paterna (Valencia), will house a linear accelerator-injector for carbon ions, scientific equipment "unique in Spain" to fight cancer.

Morant, who visited the House of Science this Thursday, detailed that the new facility, which has a budget of 18 million euros through the Center for Technological Development and Innovation (CDTI), within the framework of the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF 2021-27), will allow the development of "very advanced" research and therapy programs.

Morant has vindicated the "unprecedented commitment" of the Government of Spain to people's health through science. "We work to improve research and the design of health solutions in order to offer well-being and hope to citizens," she proclaimed, according to the Ministry in a statement.

Specifically, the proposal to be installed at the IFIC involves the development of a linear accelerator-injector for carbon ions (C6) with an energy of at least 10 megaelectronvolts per nucleon (MeV/n), as the first stage of a complete installation of carbon ions. At an operational level, this equipment will be the basis of a facility that will operate at the IFIC for scientific exploitation in preclinical biomedicine and radiobiology.

The compact linear ion accelerator is a technique that is emerging as one of the "most effective" future therapies in radiological treatments against cancer. Protons (particles that form the nucleus of the atom) and ions (electrically charged atoms) allow the irradiation on tumor tissues to be modulated with "great precision", with "much less" damage to healthy tissue than conventional radiotherapy that uses photons (X-rays), as detailed by the Ministry.

Treatment with protons or ions is "especially recommended" for pediatric cases and radio-resistant tumors. In addition, ions have "greater" radiobiological efficacy, "even less" toxicity and a "more favorable" immunological response than protons. However, the Ministry points out that "more studies" are required to confirm these results.

Ion beam technology is now "sufficiently mature" and the "real challenge" is the generalization of its accessibility, since currently they are "singular, rare worldwide, large and expensive" equipment.

Hence, the department led by Morant emphasizes the need for an innovation process that "simplifies" the instrumentation of the equipment and, in addition, makes possible the reconversion of hospital spaces that are currently used to facilitate "greater expansion" of this therapy and its application in those patients who need it.

In any case, the Ministry has highlighted that the scientific use of this equipment will make radiobiological studies "unique worldwide" possible. In this regard, he detailed that the range of possibilities for research that opens up with this facility is "very wide", such as modeling and systematizing the behavior of ions, the study of new dose deposition techniques, studying the possible combined use of different ions, complementarity to be able to apply variable radiation energies and the comparison of effects depending on the type of ions, among others.

These lines of research aim to contribute in clinical and preclinical aspects to develop "more precise and specialized" planning of treatments with protons, ions and new techniques, in coordination with similar facilities in Europe and Japan.

The facility has been built through a Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) process, a tool to promote innovation from the public sector through the acquisition of innovative solutions or solutions in the development phase. In this case, the award has been made to AVS GROUP (Added Value Industrial Engineering Solutions S.L.U), a "leading" company in the design and development of equipment for the space and high science sectors. The Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT) also participates in the construction of the accelerator.