The future innovative FLASH facility based on CERN breakthrough accelerator technology is one step closer

Innovative radiation therapy with electrons
(Image: CERN)

Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and the ISREC Foundation1 have announced that funding has been secured, thanks to the financial support of the Biltema Foundation [see Press Release], for the next phase of the design and construction of an innovative radiotherapy facility for cancer treatment for FLASH radiotherapy with electrons. The team of Prof. Bourhis, Head of Radiation Oncology at CHUV, are among the pioneers in developing FLASH, a radiotherapy treatment that delivers a high dose of radiation in a very short time, selectively killing tumour cells while sparing healthy tissues.

The main technical challenge is obtaining high-energy electrons using compact linear accelerators, a challenge now overcome by the collaboration between CERN and CHUV. The solution comes from the conceptual design of a unique apparatus based on the CLIC (Compact Linear Collider) accelerator technology, which will accelerate electrons to treat tumours up to 15 to 20 cm in depth.

Using the CLIC high-performance linear electron accelerator technology, we designed a facility which is capable of treating large and deep-seated tumours in the very short timescales needed for FLASH therapy

explains Walter Wuensch, project leader at CERN.

CHUV specialists and CERN experts in accelerator technologies have long been collaborating on this project and the 25 million Swiss Franc donation will finance the design and construction of a dedicated FLASH radiotherapy platform.  Over the next four and half years, the components and technology of the FLASH device, will be developed, manufactured, calibrated and assembled, with a new facility to house the apparatus being built at the CHUV.

Once the entire platform has undergone clinical validation, CHUV expects the first patients to be treated, in the context of a clinical trial, in the course of 2025. The successful translation of the FLASH technology into the clinic would be a world-first and could treat a broad range of cancer patients even those with radiation-resistant deep-seated tumours.  

This is an innovative, interdisciplinary project that brings together biologists, physicists and Medical Doctors in close collaboration. It is often at these interfaces that breakthroughs are made, and we are confident that this collaboration between CHUV and CERN will bring FLASH to a level of efficacy and implementation never previously seen. 

Professor Susan Gasser, ISREC Foundation Director.


1The ISREC Foundation is a private non-profit foundation. Its mission is to support cancer research projects, particularly projects that promote knowledge transfer and collaboration between basic and clinical research, as well as those that nurture the next generation of scientists and academics in these fields.