CARDIFF » April 4: The UK is to get its first three Proton Beam Therapy centres, marking a significant breakthrough in the provision of cancer treatment.
Cardiff-based Proton Partners International Ltd is to open the treatment centres in Cardiff, London and Northumberland by 2017 and the first – Cardiff – will be operational next year.
The centres will be available for NHS patients from England, Scotland and Wales, medically-insured private patients and self-paying patients.
Proton Partners International has been formed following discussions between Professor Sir Chris Evans, the leading life sciences entrepreneur, and leading UK life sciences and healthcare investors on addressing cancer treatment in the UK. Institutional and private investors have committed to almost £100m equity finance in the company.
Professor Gordon McVie, Senior Consultant at the European Institute of Oncology, has been appointed chairman and Professor Karol Sikora, has agreed to become chief medical adviser to the company, alongside a range of renowned cancer and healthcare experts.
Professor McVie said: “This is an exciting and important development of the provision of cancer treatment in the UK. As things stand, patients who can benefit from this treatment have to go abroad for treatment, often at great expense to the NHS. The creation of these centres will go a long way to ensuring the very best of treatment is available in the UK.”
Professor Sikora said: “I was delighted to be approached by Sir Chris as there are only 40 Proton Beam Therapy centres around the world and a pressing need for more. In the UK there are none. Given the ageing population, there will be a significant rise in the number of cancer cases in the UK and therefore we should do what is necessary to provide the appropriate level and type of care.”
Sir Chris Evans and his team at Arthurian Life Sciences, which manages the £100 million Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund established by the Welsh Government, are investing in the company through the fund.
Sir Chris said: “We are delighted that the UK’s first centre will be based in Cardiff and Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund is proud to support this breakthrough. There are more than 150,000 people treated for cancer each year in the UK and the demand for treatment is growing. It is anticipated that NHS demand for Proton Beam Therapy abroad will reach 1,500 patients by 2017. Proton Partners will be able to play a leading part in helping meet demand in the UK as of next year.”
Edwina Hart, the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, in the Welsh Government, said: “I am delighted that Sir Chris and his Arthurian team are bringing this excellent project to Wales to build the first Proton Beam Therapy centre in Britain.”
In addition to state of the art Proton Partners’ treatment services, the Cardiff centre will provide conventional radiotherapy, chemotherapy and supportive care. This could then be offered through other centres.
Proton beam therapy is a highly-targeted type of radiotherapy that can treat hard-to-reach cancers, such as spinal tumours (chordomas), with a lower risk of damaging the surrounding tissue and causing side effects.
In the future, Proton Partners International intends to develop further proton therapy centres in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The Government has announced that it is to create two NHS proton beam therapy units which will open in 2018.