CARDIFF, Wales, May 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
The first proton beam therapy centres to be built in the UK will herald a new era of cancer care provision.
Professor Karol Sikora, former head of the World Health Organisation's cancer programme and chief medical adviser to Proton Partners International Limited, told an audience of international life sciences and healthcare experts in Wales today that proton beam therapy will 'transform' care in the UK. The event, at the Welsh Life Sciences Hub in Cardiff, was also attended by Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport for the Welsh Government.
Professor Sikora said: "Work will begin this summer on the UK's first Proton Beam Therapy Centre, based in Wales. For cancer patients across the UK, it is a moment that cannot come soon enough.
"There are more than 150,000 cancer patients in the UK every year, treated with radiation therapy. At least 10% of these people might be better treated with proton beam therapy. Across the world proton beam therapy has been shown to deliver significant results for patients, especially in lowering side effects, but in the UK we are yet to start.
"The first treatment centre, which will be operational by Christmas next year, will have the capacity to treat 700 patients annually. This will transform treatment provision for NHS and privately-funded patients who, at present, have to be sent abroad to received proton beam therapy. This therapy is not a panacea but it makes a real difference for so many patients, particularly children, that its provision on a suitable scale within the UK is essential."
Proton Partners International Limited is to open three centres across the UK, the first at Celtic Springs Business Park, Newport, and the others in Northumberland and London. Each centre will treat up to 700 patients per year. The company has also identified additional sites in Liverpool and Birmingham to deal with patient demand and to provide a broader national coverage.
The Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund established by the Welsh Government and operated by Arthurian Life Sciences, led by entrepreneur Sir Chris Evans, is investing in Proton Partners and was instrumental in establishing the first centre in Wales.
Chris McGuigan, Chair of the Life Sciences Hub Wales added: "When establishing the Hub, our commitment from the beginning was to generate income and high skilled jobs for Wales and to help significantly improve the health of the people of Wales and beyond. Previously some cancer patients have had to raise thousands of pounds to receive Proton Beam Therapy abroad and quite simply, every cancer patient deserves the best possible care without needing to leave the UK or spend huge amounts of money. To say that Wales is leading the transformation of cancer treatment in the UK firmly positions our reputation for scientific innovation on a global scale. As Chairman of the Hub, I am delighted to be able to support Proton Partners in this UK first"
Professor Gordon McVie, chairman of Proton Partners, emphasised that the company was international, and will be a significant economic asset for Wales. He said: "Our company will also create a critical mass of fast particle scientists, and be the training centre for new staff in each of the future UK centres. We have partnered with bluechip world leading companies, Philips and IBA, and we shall become an international centre of excellence, sharing in the European Proton Networks from which UK has so far been excluded. Our fundraising will continue as we already have advanced plans for three overseas centres."
About Proton Partners International Limited
Proton Partners International is a private limited company, registered in Wales. The company was formed following discussions between Professor Karol Sikora, former head of the World Health Organisation's cancer programme, Professor Sir Chris Evans, the leading life sciences entrepreneur, and Neil Woodford, founding partner of Woodford Investment Management. Institutional and private investors have committed to almost £100m equity finance in the company.
Professor Gordon McVie, Senior Consultant at the European Institute of Oncology has been appointed chairman and Professor Karol Sikora is chief medical adviser.