ENLIGHT at its second European appointment

CERN hosts the preparatory meeting of ENLIGHT++ to focus European efforts in light-ion hadron therapy.

On Friday, 24 March, CERN hosted the preparatory meeting of ENLIGHT++, which continues the vision started by the European Network for Research in Light-Ion Hadron Therapy (ENLIGHT). Clinicians, oncologists, physicists, radiobiologists, information and communication technology experts and engineers from around Europe came for the one-day workshop to coordinate European efforts in radiation therapy using light-ion beams for cancer therapy.

Following a welcome from CERN's Chief Scientific Officer Jos Engelen, key note presentations began with Jean-Pierre Gérard, Director-General of the Centre Antoine-Lacassagne and former chairman of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ESTRO), who illustrated the compelling reasons why ion therapy is needed. The following talks were given by Germaine Heeren, manager of the original ENLIGHT project (Belgium), and Thomas Haberer from the Heidelberg Ion Therapy Facility, on the role of ENLIGHT in promoting hadron therapy and the status of the hadron therapy centres in Germany and Italy. The morning session was concluded by Ugo Amaldi, who, as one of the key figures in the field of hadron therapy for more than 15 years (in 1991 he launched the hadron therapy project and in 1992 he created TERA, Fondazione per radioterapia oncologica, in Italy), outlined and fully supported the initiative. In Amaldi's opinion, collaboration has been the key to ENLIGHT's success from the beginning. In large part, it is thanks to the ENLIGHT initiative that the HIT (Heidelberger Ionenstrahlen-Therapie) in Germany and the CNAO (Centro Nazionale di Adroterapia Oncologica) in Italy are under construction and the Med-AUSTRON in Austria and ETOILE (European Light Ion Oncological Treatment Centre) in France have been approved. He continued by adding that the hadron therapy community needs to put in place essentially two kinds of collaborations: the first one to develop a common view on issues such as authorization protocols and patient selection, and the second one, crucial for ENLIGHT++, to provide R&D involving European groups to follow up ENLIGHT activities (studies on clinical trials, radiobiology, modalities to improve the delivery of the radiation, novel design of detectors and equipment) and share information. The community should identify and define the key areas that need further work for optimising hadron therapy and try to secure funding from the European Commission to carry out the research and development necessary.

After the plenary session, the participants were grouped into the main areas where it was felt that further effort is needed. The event closed with reports, a summary and conclusions from the discussions. Manjit Dosanjh (CERN) was chosen as the official coordinator for the ENLIGHT++ initiative.

For more information, go to www.cern.ch/enlight.