Belfast researchers discovery focused on laser to advance cancer treatment


Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast have developed a “very effective” tool for treating types of cancer resistant to other forms of radiation.

Researchers from Queen’s University in Belfast have discovered a tool that will help future investigations into more effective forms of cancer treatment.

The project was led by Prof Marco Borghesi of the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s. Borghesi and his team worked closely with researchers from the University of Strathclyde and Imperial College London.

The tool of the experts involves the use of high-powered lasers to generate a beam of carbon ions with the ability to target cancerous tumors.

According to Borghesi, the tool is “very effective in treating types of cancer resistant to other forms of radiation”.

Dr. Aodhan McIlvenny, researcher at Queen’s University and lead author of the book resulting study, described the process: “When we shine a short flash of light – a laser – on a very thin object, we can push it forward at very high speeds. Typically, the energy transferred by the laser is carried away by particles that we do not want and are unable to use.

“However, we have now found that by heating the object extremely quickly, we can remove these unwanted particles before hitting the object with the intense laser pulse.

He concluded: “This means that we are then able to produce near-pure beams of the type of particles we are interested in – in this case they are carbon ions. This gives us the ability to select a specific type of radiation and use it for experiments of targeted irradiation in new areas that we have not yet explored “.

Borghesi and his team have now started cell irradiation experiments using this beam, in collaboration with their colleagues from the Patrick G Johnston Center for Cancer Research at Queen’s.

Professor Kevin Prize, who works at the center, said: “This is a major step forward in our ability to test new beams for future radiotherapy applications and now allows us to explore potential new biology, which will help explore ways to advance. cancer treatment. “

The project was funded by the Engineering and Physical Research Council. Researchers worked with the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Central Laser Facility.

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