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Proton therapy demand wave drives expansion of Belgium ’ s IBA

(Reuters) – When Yves Jongen stood at the controls of his proton therapy machine 15 years ago to treat a cancer patient for the first time he was petrified. Now Jongen’s company IBA is hiring 400 engineers to cope with demand for the technology, increasing its workforce by a third, and expanding its production capacity to make up to 30 machines a year, from a maximum of 8 now. “It is such a responsibility to send a beam of potentially lethal particles into the body of a fellow human being. It is exciting but scary at the same time,” he said. Proton therapy made the front pages in Britain last year when 5-year-old Ashya King was removed from hospital by his parents, against the advice of doctors, and flown to Prague for treatment using an IBA-made machine. There are only 170 proton therapy treatment rooms worldwide to handle about 1% of radiation therapy patients. But there is already a consensus on the technology’s benefits for certain types of patients, such as children and young adults with spinal cord and base of brain tumours and a growing belief that it could also limit side effects. King’s family say he is now free of cancer. A spin-off of the Catholic University of Louvain’s nuclear physics department, IBA began life making cyclotrons to produce radioisotopes for hospitals and radiopharmaceutical companies. “We would sell one machine a year and enjoy ourselves a lot doing it,” said Jongen, 68, who founded ...
Source: Mass Device - Category: Medical Equipment Authors: Tags: Business/Financial News Radiosurgery IBA Source Type: news

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