February 13, 2018
Manufacturing Insights

Mevion brings first proton therapy system to Europe

Courtesy
Michael Tajima, director of product management and marketing at Mevion Medical Systems.

Littleton-based Mevion Medical Systems has delivered its first proton therapy cancer treatment system - the Mevion S250i Proton Therapy System - to the Zuid-Oost Nederland Protonen Therapie Centrum (ZON-PTC) at the MAASTRO Clinic in the Netherlands, which is under construction and will be finished by the end of 2018. The system is the company's first outside of the U.S. and the first of its kind in Europe, according to Mevion. In a Q&A session with the WBJ, Michael Tajima, director of product management & marketing for Mevion, spoke about the process of preparing the system for its first European medical use.

How many of Mevion's proton management systems are currently in use around the world?

Eight Mevion accelerators have been installed globally. Seven are in the U.S., and this one is the first in Europe.

Describe the relationship between ZON-PTC and Mevion.

A collaborative and long-term relationship is critical in proton therapy projects. A Mevion proton project takes just under two years for construction and installation, where there has to be a high degree of coordination with the local construction company managed by ZON-PTC and the Mevion install team.

In addition to the installation phase, there has to be coordination with training and planning between the clinical teams and the experts at our headquarters. Proton therapy systems have been used for decades, so it is critical to us to not only start the relationship right, but to continue support throughout its use. With ZON-PTC, we have a very positive relationship enabling the project to begin well and remain tightly coordinated.

What makes the S250i system so groundbreaking?

There are two key aspects of the S250i system truly differentiating it from the competition - its clinical performance and its economics. Mevion revolutionized proton therapy with the S250 series by reducing the cost of proton therapy by a factor of five or more compared to traditional systems. The improved cost effectiveness enables the Mevion system to be far more accessible to hospitals than the therapy had been historically. The clinical performance allows for more precise delivery of the radiation beam to tumors, reducing the radiation exposure to surrounding organs, enabling the potential for better patient outcomes.

The company said the accelerator is 15 tons, but is the smallest of its kind. What is it built with that gives it that weight?

Compared to other medical proton accelerators, which can weigh anywhere 50 to 200 tons, Mevion's 15-ton accelerator is actually quite a lightweight. Proton accelerators depend on powerful magnets to contain and guide the protons as they speed up to over half the speed of light. Inside the Mevion accelerator is a proprietary superconducting magnet cooled to negative 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This magnet is surrounded by a steel casing which contains and focuses the magnetic field.

What steps were taken to prepare the accelerator for the facility before it was delivered?

Courtesy
Mevion Medical System's S250i Proton Therapy System is lowered into the facility via crane.

Minimizing the time to start treating patients is critical to our customers. Due to its compact size, our manufacturing team can assemble and test more of the accelerator sub-system in the factory rather than at the construction site. This includes tuning of the magnet, testing the output of the beam, and various systems testing. At rig out, the system is mounted on a specialized transport frame that enables it to be easily transferred from truck, to ship, to the crane for installation at the site. All of these design features help enable the system to become operational at the site very quickly.

How long did it take to install the accelerator via crane?

Total lift was about 20 minutes.

What is it like to be the first to introduce this treatment method to an entire continent?

We are very excited to be launching the MEVION S250i system to Europe. Our company mission is to make proton therapy accessible to as many patients as possible. This is a big milestone for the company to provide this therapy to patients in Europe. We believe the S250i system will have a significant impact on the future of proton therapy, and we are looking forward to seeing the system at the MAASTRO Clinic help patients in the fight against cancer.

This interview was conducted and edited for clarity by WBJ Staff Writer Zachary Comeau.

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