Cancer experts from Colorado universities partner to bring carbon-ion radiotherapy to U.S.

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Feasibility study is first step toward $300 mil. facility for cutting edge cancer treatment for humans and companion animals.

>>> Researchers hope the feasibility study brings carbon-ion radiotherapy as seen above to the United States. (Photo courtesy of University of Colorado.)Cancer experts from Colorado University and Colorado State (CSU), including researchers from the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center, announced a $200,000 feasibility study to support building the nation's first carbon-ion radiotherapy research and treatment facility in Aurora, Colo. Carbon-ion therapy is proven effective against the deadliest cancers, but is currently only available in Europe and Japan.

According to releases from both universities, collaborators will meet Oct. 2 at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora to discuss plans for the estimated $300 million research and treatment facility. The project is connected with University of Colorado Health's Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colo., and with carbon-ion radiotherapy pioneers at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan. “It's clear that our collaboration offers distinct advantages for an international carbon-ion center that would provide truly needed help for animal and human cancer patients,” says Mark Stetter, dean of the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, in a release.

The Flint Animal Cancer Center specializing in treating cats and dogs with naturally occurring cancer provides critical translational medicine that CSU says is the cornerstone of the carbon-ion therapy proposal. Research and treatment at the proposed facility would accelerate companion animal oncology work benefitting pets and people.

Jac Nickoloff, a radiation researcher and head of the CSU Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, explained that carbon ions, compared to the protons and photons traditionally used in radiotherapy, are more precisely targeted to tumors and have been shown to cause minimal damage to normal tissues en route to tumors. Carbon-ion radiotherapy is also notable for creating more lethal damage to DNA in tumor cells-making it effective in killing tumors that are resistant to traditional therapies. Studies show that carbon-ion radiation is safe, well tolerated by patients and works on many types of cancer with few side effects, Nickoloff said.

The University of Colorado, Colorado State University and key university units involved in the project contributed funding for the feasibility study.

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