Varian (VAR) announces the Proton Clinical Research Center of the Shandong Cancer Hospital—the first center in the Asia Pacific to join FlashForward™ Consortium. The Consortium now includes 15 institutions and is focused on preclinical research, clinical implementation, and advocacy efforts for FLASH Therapy.
What is FLASH Therapy?
FLASH Therapy, reports Varian, is an experimental non-invasive treatment modality using an external beam delivered in high doses, at ultra-high speeds (less than 1 second), and in one to three sessions. It represents an exciting and potentially promising new direction in cancer treatment.
Recent FLASH Preclinical Research Results
Recently Varian presented publicly the first pre-clinical results of its research on FLASH in partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Department of Radiation Oncology and the Maryland Proton Treatment Center. The FLASH Therapy preclinical tests showed reduced toxicity in healthy tissues and organs as compared to conventional proton treatments, displaying 25-30% less damage to lung tissue—leading to less fibrosis of the lung, and an average of 35% reduction in skin dermatitis during treatment. The tests, in mice models, were conducted on a modified clinical device capable of translation to humans.
What is The FLASHForward Consortium?
The FlashForard Consortium’s mission is to continue research and build an evidence-based introduction of FLASH therapy using the Varian ProBeam platform. Working groups in the FlashForward Consortium help to identify preclinical study design for understanding this therapy, develop and share protocols that will enable a safe and quality clinical start for new users, and assist with regulatory and advocacy efforts. Members include: University of Maryland Department of Radiation Oncology, Cincinnati/UC Health Proton Therapy Center, Danish Centre for Particle Therapy, Holland Proton Centre, New York Proton Center, Penn Medicine, The Christie Proton Therapy Center, University College London, Proton International at the University of Alabama Birmingham, Emory Proton Therapy Center, Paul Scherrer Institute, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Proton Therapy, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam and South Florida Proton Therapy Institute.
Proton therapy is a major technological advance in cancer care. The effectiveness of proton therapy is due to the way the energy is delivered at a prescribed depth known as Bragg Peak. Varian’s ProBeam system is at the forefront of the industry, having created the world’s first commercially available pencil beam scanning system, which is the most precise form of proton therapy available. Only pencil beam scanning is able to delivery intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT), which is recognized for its effectiveness and conformity of dose delivery, and considered an advance over other proton therapy delivery methods.
Presently, proton therapy as a whole—offered at 48 centers worldwide—composes a small percentage of radiotherapy treatment options. But many centers are in the planning or construction phases.
China’s Shandong Cancer Hospital & Institute Joins the Consortium
Shandong Cancer Hospital & Institute, part of Shandong University, are positioning themselves to capitalize on this new investigational cancer-fighting technology. According to Professor Yu Junming, president of Shandong Cancer Hospital & Institute, “we are aiming to build a first-class proton therapy center, training and research base” and “We are happy to join the Consortium and be involved in the research and development programs of this leading technology that could potentially provide improved clinical solutions for patients.
Varian is Growing this Network
Kolleen Kennedy is the chief growth officer and president of Proton Therapy Solutions, Varian. She undoubtedly is satisfied with the recent addition from China and noted: “We are pleased to welcome Proton Clinical Research Center of the Shandong Cancer Hospital to this advanced research group.”
Varian is leading in developing and delivering cancer care solutions and is focused on creating a world without fear of cancer. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Varian employs approximately 7,000 around the world.
With a $12.36 billion market cap and a share price of $135.92, Varian reports approximately $3 billion in revenue and very nominal net income. They hold about $550 million in cash.