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‘Cancer seeing’ technology is one in a hundred innovations to change our world

PRaVDA2 sml

A groundbreaking piece of medical imaging technology that could revolutionise cancer treatment will be featured as part of a showcase of 100 engineering ideas that have changed our world.

A section of the PRaVDA instrument, developed at the University of Lincoln, UK, for enhancing the treatment of cancer using proton beam therapy, will be included in the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) new show wall at its Savoy Place headquarters in London.

The IET is the largest professional engineering institution in Europe and its show wall will be a celebration of engineering ideas that have had the biggest impact on humanity. Other items on show include an internal combustion engine, as designed by Karl Benz, and a mechanical television system, which was masterminded by Logie Baird.

The international consortium of researchers behind the PRaVDA (Proton Radiotherapy Verification and Dosimetry Applications) project is led by the University of Lincoln’s Distinguished Professor of Image Engineering Nigel Allinson MBE.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, he and his multinational team are developing one of the most complex medical instruments ever imagined to improve the delivery of proton beam therapy in the treatment of cancer. The advances they have made in medical imaging technology could make this type of therapy a viable treatment for many more cancer sufferers.

The world-first technology developed by the team uses proton beams to localise treatment, causing less damage to healthy tissue.

Professor Allinson, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, said: “It is an amazing honour for our work to be included on the IET’s show wall, and to be up there with some of the all-time greats of engineering innovation.”

The IET’s year-long show wall exhibition is part of a series of initiatives to celebrate the launch of the new Savoy Place venue in London, which officially opens in November 2015. The exhibition will include a layer of PRaVDA’s Proton Tracker Unit, which will feature alongside other pioneering innovations from across the globe.

The PRaVDA research consortium was also recognised by the institution in November 2014, when it won the Model-based Engineering category at the prestigious IET Innovation Awards, which recognise the best global innovations in engineering, science and technology.

Later this year, the PRaVDA team will continue its work by using coveted time on the South African National Cyclotron (a type of particle accelerator), near Cape Town, to try to produce a world-first clinical-quality Proton CT.

Innovative breakthrough in ‘cancer seeing’ technology wins coveted industry accolade

An international research team developing world-first technology for use in cancer treatment, using proton beams to localise treatment and cause less damage to healthy tissue, has won a global competition recognising the best innovations in engineering, science and technology.

The consortium of researchers led by Professor Nigel Allinson MBE from the University of Lincoln, UK, received a prestigious Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Innovation Award.

The team behind the PRaVDA project was named as the winner in the Model-Based Engineering category for its Proton CT ‘Seeing cancer during proton therapy’ innovation.

Professor Nigel Allinson

The PRaVDA innovation will assist radiotherapists by helping them to achieve accurate proton CT images. Over half of all cancer patients receive radiotherapy as part of their curative treatment, and most radiotherapy is delivered using high-energy external beams of x-rays. Proton beam therapy, however, uses a different type of beam to conventional radiotherapy. It uses a high-energy beam of protons. Like x-rays, protons can penetrate tissue to reach deep tumours.  However, compared to x-rays, protons cause less damage to healthy tissue in front of the tumour, and no damage at all to healthy tissue lying behind, which greatly reduces the side effects of radiation therapy.

Professor Allinson, Distinguished Professor of Image Engineering in Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, said: “We are really pleased to have won this award – it’s great to receive such recognition from a global institution as renowned and long-running as the IET.  Hopefully this award will mean that we can continue to provide accurate cancer treatment for more and more patients.”

He added: “We are mid-way through our three-year project to create world-first technology which will make proton therapy a viable treatment option for many more cancer patients. With two new government-funded proton therapy centres due to open in the UK by 2018, and the number of centres worldwide expected to double in the next decade, PRaVDA has the potential to make a profound contribution to the global fight against cancer.”

Professor Allinson heads the PRaVDA project team, which also includes the University of Birmingham, University of Liverpool, University of Surrey, University of Warwick, University of Cape Town, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

William Webb, IET President, said: “The IET Innovation Awards celebrate the best in global innovation, highlighting the rapid and exciting pace of development in today’s engineering and technology industry. Congratulations to the team for their win. They were selected from a highly impressive set of global innovations as one of the most forward-thinking, pioneering innovations in the field.

“These awards are part of the IET’s mission to inspire engineering excellence, which last year provided over £500,000 to celebrate excellence and research in the sector and inspire the next generation of engineers and technicians.  Our awards recognise and reward the industry’s elite, from apprentices and technicians at the start of their careers, through to senior established professionals.”

The awards took place in London on 19th November 2014 and were hosted by TV presenter Kate Russell. For more information on the IET Innovation Awards, visit:http://conferences.theiet.org/innovation/ceremony/index.cfm