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A new platform for ultra‑high dose rate radiobiological research using the BELLA PW laser proton beamline

Jan 27, 2022. Publications

Abstract

Radiotherapy is the current standard of care for more than 50% of all cancer patients. Improvements in radiotherapy (RT) technology have increased tumor targeting and normal tissue sparing. Radiations at ultra-high dose rates required for FLASH-RT effects have sparked interest in potentially providing additional differential therapeutic benefits. We present a new experimental platform that is the first one to deliver petawatt laser-driven proton pulses of 2 MeV energy at 0.2 Hz repetition rate by means of a compact, tunable active plasma lens beamline to biological samples. Cell monolayers grown over a 10 mm diameter field were exposed to clinically relevant proton doses ranging from 7 to 35 Gy at ultra-high instantaneous dose rates of 107 Gy/s. Dose-dependent cell survival measurements of human normal and tumor cells exposed to LD protons showed significantly higher cell survival of normal-cells compared to tumor-cells for total doses of 7 Gy and higher, which was not observed to the same extent for X-ray reference irradiations at clinical dose rates. These findings provide preliminary evidence that compact LD proton sources enable a new and promising platform for investigating the physical, chemical and biological mechanisms underlying the FLASH effect.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-05181-3

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