First patient treated with Flash radiation therapy in clinical trial

Flash radiation therapy was used to treat the first patient in the world earlier this week during the start of a clinical trial at the Proton Therapy Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, according to a Nov. 19 news release.

Flash radiation therapy delivers ultra-high doses in less than one second, up to 100 times faster than the traditional method, and can eliminate the debilitating side effects. 

The clinical trial is expected to enroll up to 10 patients with bone metastases and will test the use of Varian Medical System's ProBeam, a proton therapy system that enables ultra-high dose rates. 

Researchers completed several years of studies on Flash therapy before starting the clinical trial. 

"The prior three years of preparation by the researchers, engineers, clinical and physics teams culminated in a treatment that was completed in literally a blink of the eye, and the patient was discharged feeling well," John Breneman, MD, principal investigator, told Becker's.

While more research needs to be done, existing findings suggest that very few sessions of Flash therapy would be needed — between one and five, Agam Sharda, senior director of the Flash program at Varian, said in an email to Becker's. 

The clinical trial aims to evaluate clinical workflow feasibility, potential side effects and efficacy of the treatment, which will be measured by participant pain relief. The study was developed by a number of medical groups including New York Proton Center in New York City. 

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