Friday 19 February

In the morning…

- Room 2 -

In the morning of this last day of conference Michael Baumann and Steve Myers chaired a session dedicated to a very interesting discussion about the OPENMED project, which aims at establishing an open-access facility for biomedical research based on the existing Low Energy Ion Ring (LEIR) at CERN. The first speaker, Ghislain Roy, from CERN, explained the motivations for such a project. There is a strong need for a biomedical facility able to provide particle beams of different types and energies to external users, for radiobiology and detector development. Currently these studies are carried out in nuclear physics laboratories and ion beam therapy centers (out of treatment hours and in some spare lines dedicated to research), but there is a lack of beam-time, in particular for ions with energy of more than 50MeV/n. According to Roy, the characteristics of beam energy, size and availability of LEIR make it an ideal candidate for conversion to such a biomedical test-bed facility.

A wish list for the proposed new facility was presented by Mike Waligórski, from the Polish Academy of Science in Kraków. The basics requirements were about the accelerator (in terms of type of particles, energies, and beam intensity) and detectors for beam profiling. However, ideally, the new structure should also host a well-equipped biological laboratory for cell culture and bio-assays, make experienced technicians available to the external researchers, and have a managing officer, who would follow and supervise all the activities.

The third presentation, given by Philippe Lambin, from Maastricht University (The Netherlands), focused on the radiobiological research motivations for the OPENMED project. The proposed facility would allow researchers to carry out systematic studies with different dose distributions and with new ions (not only protons and carbon ions), in order to assess both the tumor control and the healthy tissue damage. 

Virginia Greco

- Room 3 -

The last morning of the conference featured presentations on the MEDICIS-PROMED programme. MEDICIS-Produced Radioisotope Beams for Medicine, of its full name, is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network of the Horizon 2020 EU programme. It officially started in April 2015 and just concluded its kick-off week at CERN. Johanna Pitters, one of the 15 young researchers recruited for the project, and John Prior, from the CHUV Hospital of Lausanne, explained the goals of the programme, which plans to use radioactive ion beams of CERN’s ISOLDE facility to produce specific ions to be used in innovative radiopharmaceuticals or to perform hadron therapy treatments.

Johanna Pitters, member of the MEDICIS-PROMED project. (Picture: Salvatore Fiore)

The MEDICIS-PROMED presentation gave rise to interesting exchanges within the audience and opened the door to further collaborations. Actually, the Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear physics (TRIUMF), represented by Yann Seimbille, will soon be part of a collaboration that also involves the University Hospital of Geneva and the EPFL, in the framework of the MEDICIS-PROMED consortium.

Yann Seimbille. (Picture: Salvatore Fiore)

TRIUMF has several facilities where scientists can exploit proton beams with energies ranging from 13 to 500 MeV. Such a variety of beams allows them to produce isotopes with potential applications in molecular imaging or radiotherapy. In particular, Seimbille showed that the laboratory developed a simple method to produce various radiometals (i.e. 44Sc, 68Ga, 86Y and 89Zr) using a modified liquid-target system.

During the second part of the morning, chaired by Esther Troost, we focused on clinics studies. Researchers from Switzerland, the United-States, Italy and The Netherlands shared the results of very recent studies on different topics, ranging from isotopes production, glioblastoma and carcinoma treatments, to big data.

At 11:30 a.m., the attendees joined the young researchers in the main hall of the CICG for another session of poster viewing.

(Picture: Salvatore Fiore)

We’ll be back at 12:45 a.m., for the presentation of the 6 winning posters, in Room 4, don’t miss it!

Anaïs Schaeffer

In the afternoon…

- Room 2 -

In the afternoon another panel discussion focused on targeting strategies. Dag Rune Olsen, from the University of Bergen (Norway), highlighted the importance of precise imaging (‘from anatomical to quantitative imaging’) for assessing the functional status of the vascular system within tumors and adjacent tissues. Dynamic contrast-enhanced (CDE) CT and MRI imaging are techniques based on CT and MRI scan with the injection of some contrast agents: although they can be performed with conventional clinical scanners, they require specialist image analysis to extract biomarkers of tumor vascular function.