Press Releases

World’s First Human Trial For New Form Of Proton Radiotherapy Treatment

Oct. 27, 2022

Cincinnati Children’s/University of Cincinnati Medical Center Proton Therapy Center completes world’s first human trial for new form of proton radiotherapy treatment.

Researchers recently completed the world's first human trial of proton FLASH radiotherapy at the Cincinnati Children's/University of Cincinnati Medical Center Proton Therapy Center. This form of experimental proton therapy is expected to innovate the future of cancer treatment.

Proton therapy is at the leading edge of cancer care, targeting tumors with precision. Currently available to patients, this treatment uses a beam of protons instead of X-rays to destroy tumors without damaging healthy tissue and reduce the chance for side effects and long-term complications. These beams, measuring only a few millimeters wide, are delivered through a gantry that can circulate 360 degrees around a patient.

What is proton FLASH radiotherapy?

FLASH radiotherapy is the newest form of proton therapy. It involves delivering radiation at dose rates that are more than 300 times higher than those used in conventional radiation treatments in about three-tenths of a second. 

The Cincinnati Children’s/University of Cincinnati Medical Center Proton Therapy Center, which opened in 2016 on the Liberty Campus of Cincinnati Children’s, incorporates a $24 million, one-of-a-kind research facility. It includes a fully operational proton therapy room dedicated exclusively for research along with integrated laboratories.

The unique capabilities of the research center were instrumental in Cincinnati developing the world's first clinical trial of FLASH proton therapy. In addition, children and adults from around the world seek treatment for more than 30 types of cancer in two clinical therapy rooms at the center.

About the study

The trial was conducted at the Cincinnati Children’s/University of Cincinnati Medical Center Proton Therapy Center and led by John C. Breneman, MD, Medical Director of the center, John P. Perentesis, MD, Research Director of the center, Anthony Mascia, PhD, Chief Physicist for the center, and Emily Daugherty, MD, a UC Health radiation oncologist and assistant professor of clinical radiation oncology at the UC College of Medicine. Drs. Breneman and Daugherty are members of the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center.

They concluded that the study indicates the clinical feasibility and preliminary efficacy and safety of this experimental treatment for cancer patents. Dr. Daugherty shared these results at the 2022 ASTRO Annual Meeting on Oct. 23, 2022. A second human trial is currently underway.