NIH Awards TPL, Inc. an SBIR Phase II for Proton Therapy Development for Cancer Treatment
Radiation therapy is one of the primary weapons in the battle against cancer, but even with the advances that have made,
there remains significant room for improvement in radiation-based treatment technologies. Proton therapy is considered
the most advanced form of radiation therapy available for cancer treatment, but the size and cost of currently available
proton-therapy devices have severely limited the technology’s use and availability. The high-voltage machines required to
generate proton beams are massive—weighing several hundred tons and requiring 90,000 square feet to house.
They also cost $100M or more to build. A substantial reduction in the size and cost is required for proton therapy
machines to be rendered practical for use in typical cancer-treatment centers. Ideally, a proton-therapy machine would
be miniaturized to the point that it would fit into a standard linac radiation vault and could replace existing X-ray machines.
TPL Inc., and collaborators have defined a technical approach that we believe will allow development of the first
low-cost, compact proton-therapy machine. As envisioned, the new device will be an order of magnitude smaller and one-fifth
the cost of the machines being used today. The key to developing this next-generation proton-therapy device is an
extremely compact accelerator design based on a novel, high-voltage insulating material (dielectric) developed by TPL.
This enabling material, developed initially for defense-related pulse-power applications, is a composite structure
comprised of a formulated polymer resin and nano-size ceramic particles.
In Phase I of this multi-phase SBIR project, an engineering feasibility effort was proposed based on the use of
TPL’s established composite dielectric technology. The project focused on demonstrating the feasibility of developing the
components that will serve as the building blocks for the new, miniaturized system and on demonstrating target performance
capabilities from those components.
Proof of feasibility in Phase I set the stage for prototype development and demonstration/validation by TPL
and its collaborators for a Phase II SBIR project. The validation work supported by Phase II will allow us to prove the
value of TPL’s proprietary enabling component for this technology and will position TPL and it’s collaborators to partner
with an industry leader to complete the development, approval, and manufacturing tasks required for “Phase III”
commercialization of this exciting new technology. We anticipate that success in attaining our goals of substantially
reducing cost and size of proton-therapy units will open up a very significant new marketplace in the U.S. and abroad for
this type of cancer-treatment device.