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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


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.


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