Proton therapy has been available as a treatment for tumours in Europe since the 1990s. Because proton beams release most of their energy at a specific depth, they can provide better control over where the therapy is deposited, with the possibility of sparing more of the surrounding normal tissues than with X-ray therapy. A number of studies are currently looking at this advantage in cancer therapy (1).
As yet, the first-in-man case of non-invasive proton therapy for cardiac indications has been reported (2) and the technology carries great promise as a non-invasive alternative to current ablation technologies. Pilot clinical trials with radiotherapy have demonstrated the basic feasibility and potential increase in effectiveness of non-invasive cardiac ablation (3).
Moving targets like heart tissue are much more difficult to reach with precision than stationary cancer tumours. The targeted tissue must be covered in 3 dimensions by adjusting the beam’s position and energy. Achieving this poses great challenges, in particular precise tracking of cardiac motion to guide the proton beam.
Our aspiration at EBAMed is to establish proton therapy as an effective and practical method to treat patients at an earlier stage of disease. Pre-clinical research performed by EBAMed’s co-founder team has laid the foundation for an understanding on the use of protons for arrhythmia treatment (4, 5). This provides the base for us to develop innovative tracking solutions to guide the proton beam with the necessary precision.
1. M. Durante, Br J Cancer 120, 777–778 (2019).
2. R. Rordorf et al., European Journal of Heart Failure 23, 195-196 (2021)
3. C. G. Robinson et al., Circulation 139, 313–321 (2019).
4. H. Lehmann, C. Graeff, P. Simoniello et al., Sci Rep 6, 38895 (2016)
5. D.L. Packer et al., Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology 13, 1145-1156 (2020)
About Heart Arrythmias
Because catheter ablation is an invasive procedure, patients tend to wait longer for treatment, with a consequent drop in quality of life and aggravation of the arrythmia. In 2019, there were approximately 1.1 million catheter ablation procedures worldwide. Apart from the patient discomfort due to the surgical procedure (under partial or total anaesthesia) and the high cost due to the length (2-7 hours) and manpower required (up to 10 medical staff), the treatment effectiveness varies largely between 20%-80%.
For more information of catheter ablation for the treatment of heart arrhythmias, please visit this page.