An advanced piece of medical equipment that is used in cutting-edge cancer treatments has been developed in China, making it the fourth country in the world to possess such technology.
The heavy-ion medical accelerator generates particles for a type of radiotherapy that aims to cure malignant tumors by bombarding them with high-energy charged heavy-ion beams.
Currently, only Japan, Germany and the United States have the capacity to produce such medical accelerators.
Developed by the Modern Physics Institute of the Chinese Academy of Science and a subsidiary company in northwest Gansu province, the new accelerator is now undergoing quality assessment tests and will have to pass a clinical trial before it is approved by the drug authority, according to Xiao Guoqing, the institute director.
"It's a great milestone as it marks an end of China's long term dependence on imported large-scale radiotherapy equipment," he said.
According to Xiao, the accelerator is the result of six decades of related research, with development on the technology itself starting in 2012.
About 30 patients will be recruited in Gansu for the clinical trials and "if everything runs smoothly it's expected to formally receive patients by the end of the year," said Ye Yancheng, head of the Wuwei Cancer Hospital, which is one of three hospitals conducting the trials.
The public hospital in Wuwei, a small city about three hours' drive from Lanzhou, bought the first machine under a joint development and technology transfer contract with the developer for a price of 550 million yuan ($84 million). Local governments and several other private companies have also contributed to the investment.
A 1,600-bed subsidiary hospital called Gansu Heavy Ion Cancer Center is now under construction, where the accelerator will be placed and receive at least 2,000 patients each year, Ye said.
"Cancer patients from abroad are welcome as well," he said. (China Daily)
52 Sanlihe Rd., Xicheng District,
Beijing, China (100864)