Major proton therapy milestone for Australians in need

The ability for Australians to access revolutionary life-saving treatment for paediatric and rare cancers has been greatly improved by the Federal Government’s decision to add proton beam therapy to the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

The Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research, currently under construction in a project spearheaded by SAHMRI, will be Australia’s first proton therapy unit and the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

SAHMRI Executive Director, Professor Steve Wesselingh, welcomed the decision as providing financial and emotional relief during an enormously stressful time.

“A cancer diagnosis doesn’t just impact the individual, it’s felt by their entire family and support network, even more so when it involves a child,” Professor Wesselingh said.

“Proton therapy is the most expensive treatment ever listed on the MBS, which shows how important this decision is to provide public funding for those in need.”

Proton therapy is a precision form of non-invasive cancer treatment that targets tumours while reducing radiation exposure to surrounding tissues compared to conventional radiotherapy. This means it can more safely treat cancers close to vital organs such as the brain and spinal column and is especially effective for treating children.

Currently, Australians seeking proton therapy must privately fund the cost of overseas treatment or apply for the Federal Government’s Medical Treatment Overseas Program. Even if approved for financial support, the emotional costs of relocating and undergoing treatment away from friends and family can be considerable.

The decision to add proton therapy to the MBS was announced by the Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt, following advice from the Medical Services Advisory Committee.

“SAHMRI and our partners in the Australian Bragg Centre development have worked closely with the Federal Department of Health over the past 18 months to present the case that Australians deserve subsidised access to proton therapy,” Professor Wesselingh said.

“Thanks to this, Australian families won’t have to put a price on their health when making decisions about which treatment to seek for rare cancers.”

Australia’s first proton therapy unit will be housed in a shielded concrete bunker in the basement of the Australian Bragg Centre, which is currently under construction in Adelaide. The building is expected to be completed in 2023. From then, the proton therapy machine will undergo 12-18 months of installation and testing before patient treatments begin.

“A new, safer cancer treatment to improve patient outcomes will be the primary and most important function of the Centre,” Professor Wesselingh said.

“However, this facility will also play a vital role in international proton therapy research. The use of protons for treatment is relatively new, so medical science has only scratched the surface of what cancers it could potentially be used to treat.”

The Centre will also become a hub for the training and development of proton therapy professionals to staff new centres arising throughout the Asia-Pacific region in future.

The Australian Bragg Centre is funded by a public/private partnership including SAHMRI, Commercial & General, the Federal Government and the South Australian Government.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledges $77m for new Bragg Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Adelaide

Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledges $77m for new Bragg Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Adelaide

Published by The Advertiser May 2022

Story By: Gabriel Polychronis and Kathryn Bermingham

Thousands of lives could be saved at a new hi-tech cancer centre in Adelaide that both major parties have now promised to fund.

Doctors would save up to 2000 lives every year at a new hi-tech cancer research centre that Scott Morrison has promised to build in Adelaide with a $77m injection if re-elected at the May 21 poll.

The Prime Minister unveiled the election pledge on Wednesday, promising to establish the Bragg Comprehensive Cancer Centre (BCCC) in Adelaide’s medical precinct on North Terrace by 2025.

Labor also promised to match the commitment if elected, essentially locking in the project regardless of who forms government.

The centre would be inside a new building as part of the $500m Australian Bragg Centre, and help save the lives of cancer patients around the country.

“This is about bringing together leading researchers, leading doctors, nurses and carers, and world-class facilities,” Mr Morrison said.

“We can help them with new treatments and new research that will give them more time with their loved ones, and even help them beat cancer.”

The federal government would invest $77m to establish the BCCC, which would become a hub of cancer research and testing, leading to an estimated 2000 cancer cases prevented, diagnosed early or treated “more effectively” in SA. Patients from the Northern Territory would also be treated at the centre.

Labor promised to match the investment if elected. Mark Butler, the party’s health spokesman, said Labor had a “long history” of supporting the Bragg Centre in Adelaide.

“Labor established comprehensive cancer centres over a decade ago,” Mr Butler said.

“This government has had a decade to do something, and it’s only on the eve of an election they act.”

The BCCC would operate within the Australian Bragg Centre, which is also set to become the home of the nation’s first ever proton therapy unit.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said about 11,500 South Australians were expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year.

Senator Birmingham said the BCCC would help doctors determine the most effect cancer treatment quicker and map out support services for patients, while adding it would attract even more medical research investment to the state.

“Most South Australians are touched by the tragedy of cancer at some stage and so many will be helped by this transformation of cancer care, diagnosis and treatment,” he said.

The project was proposed by the Adelaide Health Innovation Partnership between the Central Adelaide Local Health Network, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the University of Adelaide and SAHMRI.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said BCCC would be Adelaide’s version of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Victoria.

“We’re taking the successful Peter MacCallum Centre model and extending it to South Australia,” he said.

University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Hoj said BCCC would draw on expertise across existing health networks.

“Integrating the clinical care, research and education strengths of the Central Adelaide Health Network, University and SAHMRI will bring South Australia into line with the world’s best practice for the development and delivery of cancer treatment,” he said.

SAHMRI executive director Professor Steve Wesselingh said the centre would facilitate collaboration to between teams to accelerate patient treatment and care, and the network of comprehensive cancer centres will “drive each other to deliver for the communities we serve”.

Children’s play area at Adelaide proton therapy unit revealed as design team visits site

Children’s play area at Adelaide proton therapy unit revealed as design team visits site

Published by The Advertiser – April 2022

Story By: Brad Crouch

It looks like a calm, colourful and fun kids’ play area – but it’s been designed in a very careful, specific way. And it’s going to put Adelaide on the world map.

New images show how the nation’s first proton therapy unit being built in Adelaide will be family friendly in an effort to put sick children at ease – because they will be the main patients.

Warm colours, inviting decor, play areas and socialising space are part of the plan to welcome families into a unit housing a beam capable of pulverising otherwise inoperable cancers with minimal damage to surrounding tissue.

An artist impression of children’s play area that is part of the new proton therapy unit under construction at the Australian Bragg Centre. Image supplied by SAHMRI

An artist impression of children’s play area that is part of the new proton therapy unit under construction at the Australian Bragg Centre. Image supplied by SAHMRI

 

The soft and welcoming images come as the international team helping deliver the $500m Australian Bragg Centre housing the proton therapy unit have finally seen the site in person after two years of virtual visits thanks to the pandemic. And they liked what they saw.

This included the massive bunker being built next to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) headquarters to house the unit.

Commercial & General is working with specialist consultants on the project in Adelaide’s BioMed City precinct.

These include Protom International delivering the proton therapy technology, global medical architecture firm Stantec, construction experts L & K Particle Therapy and engineering specialists BR+A Consulting Engineers.

Covid suddenly meant project management was juggled with thousands of hours of virtual meetings and long-distance conversations across time zones.

Experts visit the Australian Bragg Centre construction site, and walk on the roof of the bunker that will house the proton therapy unit. Picture James Elsby

Experts visit the Australian Bragg Centre construction site, and walk on the roof of the bunker that will house the proton therapy unit. Picture James Elsby

 

After finally getting together to tour the site, the experts were glowing in their praise, including L & K Particle Therapy’s Kevin Kriebel who has worked on 13 proton therapy units.

“These are extremely complex projects with very fine tolerances, we are literally dealing with things down to the sub-millimetre,” he said.

“In my 36 years in major construction and the past 12 in particle construction, this is by far the best organised construction I’ve seen – that’s a credit to the local team.”

Protom International’s vice president of engineering Dan Raymond said the project had many “firsts” including Australian regulatory approvals.

“The result here in Adelaide will be right up there on the global scale,” he said.

Allen Whitaker of international healthcare architecture firm Stantec said it had been a challenge to work remotely.

“We have a number of proton centres under our belt around the world, but the stature of this one is quite high,” he said. “Being the first in Australia makes it special, and the team that was brought together – particularly in the face of Covid – created a spirit of can-do.”

An artist's render of the reception area at the Australian Bragg Centre proton therapy unit. Picture supplied by SAHMRI
An artist’s render of the reception area at the Australian Bragg Centre proton therapy unit. Picture supplied by SAHMRI

 

The project will support 1000 jobs and generate an estimated $1bn in economic activity during construction and is due for completion in late 2023 and is expected to treat its first patients around 18 months later.

The project is funded through a public-private partnership including SAHMRI, Commercial & General and the federal and state governments.

Commercial & General’s Courtney Procter said two years of not being able to work face-to-face had increased communication and collaboration.

“We’ve become so adept at using technology to connect, discuss and problem solve that it’s become second nature,” she said.

Read the full story here : https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/childrens-play-area-at-adelaide-proton-therapy-unit-revealed-as-design-team-visits-site/news-story/94d180f7726a05fcbaafdd782b0a8dc8#share-tools

RAH nursing key to new particle therapy clinical quality registry

RAH nursing key to new particle therapy clinical quality registry

Posted: By Central Adelaide Local Health Network

The Australian Particle Therapy Clinical Quality Registry has launched this week and nurses at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), Department of Radiation Oncology, will be essential to the vital cancer therapy research.

The registry will provide the valuable data needed for researchers to compare the long-term safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of proton therapy in comparison to conventional x-ray photon radiotherapy.

The revolutionary proton beam therapy delivers powerful beams of energy precisely into cancer tissue while minimising the damage to nearby healthy tissues. This enables treatment around delicate areas such as the head, neck, and spine, and is beneficial for young patients who are still developing physically.

Nurses fundamental

The new registry is an opt-out approach which is common for large registries of this kind. Nurses will inform patients about the registry, and ensure they understand they’ll have 14 days to withdraw if they choose.

Principle investigator and project manager for the registry, Kelly Skelton, believes that this involvement by nurses is a strength, as they are knowledgeable and accessible for patients throughout the 14-day opt-out period.

“We have an experienced group of radiation oncology nurses that are well-aware of the registry requirements and can educate and inform patients about the study,’ she said.

“Utilising nurses that are already seeing these patients, it makes much more sense for recruitment to happen that way.”

Gabby Vigar, Radiation Oncology Nurse Unit Manager at the RAH, “jumped at the chance” to be able to contribute to the world-class research.

Nurses already run educational sessions for patients when they start radiotherapy, so Gabby agrees that informing patients about the registry at the same time is beneficial.

“Adding this piece into that education session made perfect sense. We’re already talking to the patients, we already know some of the patients, so I think nurses are well-placed to be able to educate patients on this registry,” she said.

The proton vs photon therapy research

Proton therapy is a safe and effective treatment and is listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule as an approved treatment for some cancers.

However, before the treatment can be made available to treat a wider range of cancers, the new national registry will help researchers determine the short- and long-term toxicities and treatment outcomes of proton therapy compared to conventional photon therapy.

The starting point of the research is to capture data related to traditional photon radiation treatment at the RAH.

Researchers will then compare this to proton therapy data they will collect in the future at The Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research, which is due to be operational from 2025. It is currently under construction in the heart of South Australia’s prestigious health and biomedical research precinct and will be the first centre of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

More info

The Australian Particle Therapy Clinical Quality Registry is proudly funded by the Hospital Research Foundation Group.

The full story can be found here 🔗

https://centraladelaide.health.sa.gov.au/particle-therapy-clinical-registry-launch/

$1m man targets tumours

$1m man targets tumours

Published by The Advertiser – February 2022

Story By: Claire Peddie

Photo By: James Elsby

Adelaide’s cancer fighting “muscle” has been strengthened with the arrival of a leading children’s brain cancer specialist, thanks to the single largest donation from an individual in the history of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

Associate Professor Jordan Hansford will provide direct care to patients at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and provide access to the nation’s only proton therapy unit, due for completion late next year.

He has been appointed for five years and started work this week, having moved from Melbourne, where he worked at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and the University of Melbourne.

“(SAHMRI) needed some neuro-oncology muscle, if you will, here in the city for paediatrics,” he said.

“Having worked here previously, I was interested.”

He had fond memories of training in Adelaide from 2010 to 2012 and “was very intrigued to come back, in the right situation, and the right situation came up”.

Commercial & General construction firm founder Jamie McClurg made the $1m donation for the McClurg Brain Cancer Fellowship to secure a top clinician/researcher.

Commercial & General is the state’s largest developer, responsible for $2.2bn in projects, including Eighty Eight O’Connell on the former Le Cornu site and the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research – previously known as SAHMRI 2.

Dr Hansford has been vocal about the need to fund more than just the building and the machinery.

“There were many people who fed back to the Health Minister that if you’re putting it in SA, you must make sure you bolster the team,” he said.

“I just didn’t know at the time it would be me bolstering it.”

Proton therapy delivers more precise radiotherapy that destroys cancer cells while minimising the damage to surrounding healthy tissue, such as in the brain and brain stem.

Dr Hansford expects proton therapy will be used to treat about 100 children a year.

“Unfortunately, about two in three kids who have conventional photon therapy … are unable to carry on adult relationships, they’re reliant on their families, they’re unable to carry jobs on long-term and have major problems in adulthood,” he said.

“We’re hoping this machine will improve those numbers markedly.”

SAHMRI executive director Professor Steve Wesselingh said the appointment was a significant milestone.

“This is a magnificent appointment that has been made possible by the generosity of Jamie McClurg,” he said.

📽️ Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkyjSt7L6rk

Rapid expansion laying the foundation for Australia’s proton therapy future

SAHMRI Media Release

The team tasked with preparing for Australia’s first proton therapy unit is experiencing a rapid expansion thanks to $2 million funding from The Hospital Research Foundation Group.

The funding has enabled the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research (ABCPTR) to expand its workforce from two people to 13 within the space of a couple of months.

Professor Steve Wesselingh, the Executive Director of SAHMRI which is driving the ABCPTR development, says the injection of expertise is an exciting milestone on the path to brining the most advanced cancer treatment technology available to Adelaide.

“We can see the foundation of the incredible Australian Bragg Centre building coming out of the ground next to SAHMRI’s headquarters on North Terrace,” he said.

“Now, thanks to support from The Hospital Research Foundation, we are also able to lay the foundation for the centre’s operational future by bringing the right people on board.”

“I’d like to recognise and thank the foundation for its vision to support proton therapy, which can destroy cancerous tumours while minimising damage to surrounding healthy tissue and vital organs.”

The Hospital Research Foundation Group CEO, Paul Flynn, says the organisation is proud to support the appointment of 11 key staff, whose work will be critical in ensuring the necessary preparations are in place to operate this world-class proton therapy unit.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research, which is set to truly transform the cancer treatment landscape,” Mr Flynn said.

“This facility is going to save and improve the lives of young people impacted by cancer locally, nationally and beyond.”

The 11 roles can be divided into three main categories – key medical specialists, the comparative planning unit and the coordination of a new national registry.

The Australian Particle Therapy Clinical Quality Registry (APTCQR) will collect case-by-case data evaluating the safety and efficacy of proton therapy in comparison to conventional x-ray radiotherapy.

The registry’s Project Manager Kelly Skelton says the information collected by the registry will inform future decisions about which proton therapy treatments will be publicly funded.

“Earlier this year we learned that paediatric and rare cancers were to be made eligible for funding under the Medicare Benefits Schedule,” Mrs Skelton said.

“The evidence collected by the registry can show whether other types of cancer could be appropriate to be added to the MBS in future.”

The newly appointed comparative treatment planning team also evaluates proton therapy against conventional radiotherapy but does so on an individual basis.

When a person is diagnosed with a cancer that could be treatable with proton therapy, this team investigates whether the benefits of this treatment outweigh the significant extra costs, including that the patient currently still needs to travel overseas to access proton therapy.

Comparative Planning Coordinator, Melanie Penfold, says the new team will be responsible for generating this data.

“Our dedicated team will be working collaboratively with our national colleagues to ensure a timely service that will aid in the treatment decision making to benefit our paediatric and rare adult cancers patients,” Mrs Melanie Penfold said.

Radiation Oncologists A/Prof Hien Le and A/Prof Peter Gorayski, under the guidance of Medical Director A/Prof Michael Penniment, will support the comparative planning process and oversee final approval on patient treatment plans.

Medical Physicist, Dr Alex Santos will join the growing physics team, contributing to radiation safety management and supporting technical research at the centre.

Proton therapy’s non-invasive, highly targeted nature makes it particularly effective for treating children’s cancers.

The Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research will be Australia’s first proton therapy centre and the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

It will be housed in a concrete bunker within the basement of the Australian Bragg Centre, which is on track for completion in 2023. From then, the proton therapy machine will undergo 12-18 months of installation and testing before patient treatments begin.

The Australian Bragg Centre is funded by a public/private partnership including SAHMRI, Commercial & General, the Federal Government and the South Australian Government.

See below for a full list of THRFG-supported appointments:

Associate Professor Michael Penniment – Medical Director

Associate Professor Hien Le – Radiation Oncologist

Associate Professor Peter Gorayski – Radiation Oncologist

Kelly Skelton – Clinical Quality Registry Project Manager

Melanie Penfold – Comparative Planning Coordinator

Rosanna Crain – Comparative Planning Radiation Therapist

Emma Shierlaw – Comparative Planning Radiation Therapist

Dr Alex Santos – Medical Physicist

Data Manager – coming next year

Paediatric Radiation Oncologist – coming next year

Clinical Implementation Project Manager – Details not public

📰Read the media releases on the links below:

Giant bunker ready to house our lifesaving proton therapy beam

Giant bunker ready to house our lifesaving proton therapy beam

Published by The Advertiser

Story by: Brad Crouch

29th October 2021

Inoperable cancers will soon be pulverised by proton beams in a world-leading new facility – but it will take a mighty feat of engineering to open Adelaide’s latest medical marvel.

A massive bunker set to house South Australia’s game-changing proton therapy unit is complete in a landmark step for construction of the $500m Australian Bragg Centre for cancer treatment.

The unit, with a beam capable of pulverising inoperable cancers with negligible damage to surrounding healthy tissue, will be the first in Australia.

With 2m-thick concrete walls and ceiling, the bunker is more than four storeys below ground level and its foundations go down another 20m. It will protect staff and the public from secondary radiation.

It will have 25,000 cubic metres of concrete and 3.5 million metres of reinforcement bar, which – placed end-to-end – would stretch from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) to Darwin.

The proton beam will be used for tumours near the brain, spinal cord or eyes.

Children and youth who would otherwise have to look overseas for last-ditch lifesaving options will be major beneficiaries. Those patients currently have to travel to places such as the US for last-chance treatment.

SAHMRI executive director Professor Steve Wesselingh said it was “tremendously exciting” to watch the Australian Bragg Centre take shape.

“The primary beneficiaries will be cancer patients, for whom this centre will literally be a life-changer,” he said.

“However, it’s also going to be critical in international proton therapy research. The use of protons for treatment is relatively new, so medical science has only scratched the surface of what cancers it could potentially be used to treat.”

The project, which is creating 1000 jobs and generating $1bn in economic activity during construction, is due for completion in late 2023.

The centre will treat its first patients 18 months later and is expected to see about 700 patients a year.

The construction is funded through a partnership that includes SAHMRI, Commercial & General, and federal and state governments.

Commercial & General chairman Jamie McClurg said specialist consultants had ensured the bunker met specific tolerances required for radiation shielding. “We are ­incorporating international experience into a proudly South Australian build program that’s creating something tremendously exciting for the future of our state,” he said.

Medical physicist Scott Penfold, the centre’s first employee, said: “The secondary radiation field produced by the proton beam requires incredibly thick concrete walls to ensure radiation doses to staff and members of the public are within regulatory limits and kept as low as reasonably achievable.”

The federal government recently added proton beam therapy to the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

📰Full story on the link below:

https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/cW9FCGvmqBSyPE3XTKd42C?domain=adelaidenow.com.au

 

SA charity delivers huge funding boost for cancer treatment centre

SA charity delivers huge funding boost for cancer treatment centre

Published by SAHMRI

September 7th 2021

The Hospital Research Foundation Group has pledged more than $2 million to support critical start-up operations for the new Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research – soon to be the first facility in the southern hemisphere to offer lifesaving proton treatment.

Key medical specialists will be recruited as part of a $1.4 million grant over three years, including a Clinical Project Manager, Medical Physicist, Radiation Therapist, Paediatric Medical Oncologist and part-time Radiation Oncologist for the SAHMRI-based facility.

“We’re truly thankful to The Hospital Research Foundation Group for its vision and foresight to support research and medical expertise that will make a profound impact on outcomes for cancer patients,” said Professor Steve WesselinghSAHMRI’s Executive Director.

THRF Group has also committed a further $628,000 over two years to establish the Australian Proton Therapy Clinical Quality Registry. The registry will collect and record cancer treatment details and patient outcomes from across the country, providing further information on the types of cases that would benefit from Proton Beam Therapy (PBT).

“The National Proton Therapy Clinical Quality Registry is extremely important. Through the collection of data comparing the efficacy and side effects of proton therapy against traditional radiotherapy, we can hone our understanding of which cancer treatments can benefit most from this emerging technology,” Prof Wesselingh said.

The Bragg Centre’s revolutionary technology will be able to target and destroy cancer cells using radiation without damaging healthy tissues by delivering powerful proton beams to precisely where they’re needed. The unit will see around 800 patients treated every year.

Brain tumour survivor and nurse at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Kate Pagnozzi was in her early 20s when she had to travel overseas to receive treatment and said it was a frightening experience.

“Having Proton Therapy in Adelaide will be a game-changer. People will no longer have to pack their entire belongings and move halfway across the world to access this life-changing treatment,” Kate said.

The Hospital Research Foundation Group CEO Paul Flynn said the organisation was proud to support this world-leading and lifesaving treatment for young people impacted by cancer and their families.

“As the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research is going to transform the cancer treatment landscape. People will travel to Adelaide from all over Australia and beyond to receive this therapy,” Paul said.

“We’re thrilled to be involved with a medical facility that will save and improve lives. These grants have been made possible thanks to the generous support of our donors and ticket buyers in The Hospital Research Foundation Home Lottery.”

📰Full story on the link below:

https://www.sahmri.org/sahmri-theme/news-362/

 Commercial & General founder Jamie McClurg donates $1m to Adelaide Proton Therapy and Research Centre

 Commercial & General founder Jamie McClurg donates $1m to Adelaide Proton Therapy and Research Centre

Published by The Advertiser – August 2021

Story by: Brad Crouch

A $1m philanthropic donation will turbocharge South Australia’s place as an international cancer treatment centre based around the planned proton therapy unit to destroy inoperable tumours.

The nation’s first unit will be at the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research — previously known as SAHMRI 2 – being built next to the original South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) headquarters in the Adelaide BioMed City precinct.

Founder of leading construction firm Commercial & General Jamie McClurg has made a $1m donation for The McClurg Brain Cancer Fellowship to attract a leading brain cancer clinician/researcher on a multi-year appointment.

SAHMRI executive director Professor Steve Wesselingh hailed the donation as “transformational” in the fight against brain cancer.

“Jamie’s generosity will make all the difference and the timing is ideal as we work towards delivering the most advanced cancer treatment available at the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research,” Prof Wesselingh said.

“A donation of this scale from an individual is extremely rare for Adelaide and we are fortunate that in Jamie we have someone who has both a deep understanding of and a passion for health as well as the ability to think big.”

Commercial & General is the State’s largest developer, responsible for $2.2bn in projects including the new Calvary Adelaide Hospital and the half-billion dollar Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy.

It was this association and learning how proton therapy would be a gamechanger for cancer patients, particularly children, that prompted Mr McClurg’s gift.

“Health is one of the key pillars of our State’s future economic growth, and it is generally acknowledged that a strong health economy can only exist if it is underpinned by a powerful medical research capability,” he said.

“SAHMRI is the flagship of that capability in South Australia but, as a comparatively young institute, it has become something of a victim of its own success.

“The Productivity Commission recently made note of SAHMRI’s significant contributions to our state’s medical research sector, however for every dollar of competitive grant funding won, institutes like SAHMRI need to find another fifty cents in third party funding to cover the gap in overheads that grants don’t meet.

“I can’t cure cancer. But I believe it’s up to people like me who have built my life in South Australia to ensure we are doing as much as we can to help those who are devoting their professional lives to creating a healthier future for our children.”

SAHMRI is approaching potential candidates for The McClurg Brain Cancer Fellowship with an appointment expected to be made early in 2022, while the proton beam therapy unit should be ready to treat patients in 2024-25.

As an independent not-for-profit research institute, SAHMRI relies on the generosity of the community it serves to continue its life-changing research.

“We can’t do what we do without the support of our community,” Prof Wesselingh said.

“Philanthropic donations give us the flexibility to pursue research where it is most needed, without needing to adhere rigidly to the controls placed on public funding.

“We have so many wonderful supporters across business, community groups and individuals, but a contribution like this from Jamie speaks to the boldness of his leadership.

“This donation, I believe, is another indication that Adelaide is maturing as an economy and that our philanthropic community is growing alongside that.”

📰Full story on the link below:

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/sahmri-2-commercial-general-founder-jamie-mcclurg-donates-1m-to-adelaide-proton-therapy-and-research-centre/news-story/46860a6721739df4a701329e96bfffda

Proton therapy ‘better’ for kids’ cancer

Proton therapy ‘better’ for kids’ cancer

Published in the Australian – November 2020

Story By: Kieran Gair

 

By the time two-year-old Zoe Bedford underwent emergency surgery, a grapefruit-sized tumour had coiled around her ­spinal cord.

Zoe, now aged 14, had Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare, fast-growing cancer of the spinal cord that is often associated with teenage boys and is seldom found in toddlers.

“The tumour was actually touching her heart and lungs,” says Vikki Bedford, Zoe’s mum. “Only about five toddlers in the world have had Ewing’s sarcoma, so it was a huge shock.”

The surgery occurred just before Christmas in 2008, and while doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital in the US managed to slow the tumour’s march, Ms Bedford’s relief was short-lived.

“It was two millimetres from breaking the dermal wall, which meant the tumour would have got into the spinal cord,” she said. “We caught it in time but there was a lot of tumour left.”

Zoe, a dual Australian-US citizen who moved to Adelaide in 2013, received 24 rounds of proton therapy radiation, a treatment that attacks cancerous tumours with beams of magnet-controlled protons.

Doctors believe the treatment, which delivers radiation through the skin from a machine outside the body, could help save the lives of about 700 Australians each year.

But the life-saving treatment won’t be available in Australia until 2025 when the $500m Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy opens in Adelaide. To access the treatment — widely viewed as the most advanced radiation therapy available — families can apply for financial assistance from the federal government before going overseas.

However, in the 12 months to July, only eight people received financial assistance for proton therapy from the federal government’s medical treatment overseas program.

Even before the pandemic, the situation wasn’t much better. Just 10 people secured government funding to undergo proton therapy overseas in 2018-19.

“Everyone, from oncologists to cancer practitioners, have a knowledge deficit around proton therapy,” said Michael Penniment, a radiation oncologist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

“It’s not a different treatment, and it’s not drug versus radiation, it’s just a better way to do radiation,” he said. “The message about the value of proton therapy is just not out there.”

Dr Penniment said brain tumours comprise 20 per cent of all childhood cancers and account for almost 40 per cent of paediatric cancer deaths in Australia.

“With proton you can deliver a much higher dose but stop it before it hits critical structures, like the base of your skull or your spinal cord,” he said. “In children, you can also spare growing bones which are really sensitive to radiotherapy, and while it’s still expensive we’ve reached the point in Australia where it’s a doable project.”

In a bid to plug the knowledge gap, Mikaela Dell’Oro, a researcher at the University of South Australia, has been investigating the benefits of proton therapy for children with brain cancer.

“Should we use it to treat a five-year-old female with a tumour close to the brain stem, or for a 13-year-old boy with a tumour closer to the optical structure?” she said.

“We know that proton therapy, compared to x-ray radiation, has fewer developmental side effects on children with brain tumours, but we need to dig deeper.”

📰Full story on the link below:

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/proton-therapy-better-for-kids-cancer/news-story/e8501cfd17b789ed813517094c366386

 

 

Sod-turning signals start of work on $500m Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research building, housing Australia’s first cancer-blasting proton therapy unit

Sod-turning signals start of work on $500m Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research building, housing Australia’s first cancer-blasting proton therapy unit

Published by The Advertiser – June 2020

Story By: Brad Crouch

 

 

Work has started on the new $500 million SAHMRI 2 medical research building, which will house Australia’s first cancer-busting proton therapy unit when it is finished in 2023.

A new era of health care in South Australia formally starts construction today as the first sod is turned on the Australian Bragg Centre housing the nation’s first proton therapy unit capable of pulverising inoperable cancer tumours.

Developer Commercial & General will own the $500 million building adjacent the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) on North Terrace and expects the project to create around 1000 construction jobs.

It will generate an estimated $1 billion in economic activity during construction by builders Lendlease, and is due for completion in late 2023.

The development had previously been estimated to cost $330 million and scheduled for completion in 2022.

The extra cost of the project and later completion date were partly blamed on major remediation ground works and dealing with installing the new technology.

The planned 12-storey building, previously nicknamed SAHMRI 2, will house around 400 researchers and will be home to the new $80 million SAiGEN Cancer Institute’s genomic and immunotherapy facility well as other tenants.

However its centrepiece will be housed deep in a three-storey underground bunker — the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research’s Pro Tom Radiance 330 unit will treat around 700 patients a year, destroying cancer cells with radiation without damaging healthy tissues by delivering powerful proton beams precisely where needed.

It means patients will no longer need to travel overseas at huge cost for lifesaving treatment.

The first patients are expected within 18 months of the building’s completion.

About half the number of future patients is expected to be children, paying around $40,000 for treatment compared to $250,000 in the US. This may be subsidised when it is available.

Revenue for treatment, including from overseas patients, will help cover SAHMRI’s rental costs.

A National Partnership Agreement between the Federal Government and State Government provides $68 million to fund the proton therapy facility which is in addition to the $47 million from the State Government covering the land and relocation of major rail infrastructure from the site.

Commercial & General — which developed the new $345 million Calvary Adelaide Hospital — executive chairman Jamie McClurg said major construction would commence next month and follows four years of hard work and commitment by all involved.

“Our health team has been forging strategic alliances with leading cancer centres around the world to ensure the Australian Bragg Centre can be a beacon for sufferers and researchers,” Mr McClurg said.

“What we have been able to achieve through this innovative partnership between the private sector and federal and state governments is one major multi-institutional complex with a single aim — to attack cancer from every angle for the benefit of patients now and in the future.”

Premier Steven Marshall said the project will bolster the state’s international credentials and create significant economic stimulus and jobs in the wake of COVID-19.

“This significant development will put SA on the map as a pioneer in world-leading, lifesaving proton therapy cancer treatment,” he said.

“It will also provide the state’s building industry with significant economic stimulus as we emerge from the greatest economic challenge of our time, supporting as many as 1000 jobs and generating an estimated $1 billion in economic activity during the construction phase.”

Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said the state-of-the-art facility will provide world-class care, closer to home.

“South Australians, and people throughout the nation, will no longer need to go overseas to get the care they need,” he said.

The building and proton therapy unit is another giant stride for the SA Health and Biomedical Precinct.

The area is now home to the original “cheesegrater” SAHMRI headquarters, the $2.4 billion Royal Adelaide Hospital, $246 million University of Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building and the $247 million University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute.

It will also be home to the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

📰Full story on the link below:

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/sod-turning-signals-start-of-work-on-500m-million-sahmri-2-building-housing-australias-first-cancerblasting-proton-therapy-unit/news-story/c586becfe4affa18f01475fbb93cbef6

Proton therapy focus

Proton therapy focus

Published in INDAILY – June 2020

Story By: Andrew Spence

 

Construction of the long-awaited SAHMRI 2 building on North Terrace will start next month, creating up to 1000 jobs.

To be known as the Australian Bragg Centre, the $500 million project will be home to the first Proton Therapy Unit in Australia, delivering advanced precision radiation treatment.

However, the first cancer patients will not be treated at the facility until 2025, about 18 months after the building’s expected completion in late 2023.

The 12-storey building, including three levels underground, will be developed and owned by SA developer Commercial & General and built by Lendlease. The new building will also be designed by architects Woods Bagot, which won a swag of awards for its “cheese grater” SAHMRI design.

Commercial & General, which recently completed the $345 million Calvary Adelaide Hospital in Angas St, is providing almost $400 million in project finance and has worked in collaboration with SAHMRI to develop the business case.

The Federal Government is providing $68 million through a National Partnership Agreement.

The State Government, which will be a cornerstone tenant through SA Health, is chipping in $47.4 million, including a $10.6 million grant to assist in the planning and development phase and $36.8 million to relocate the Train Control Centre from North Terrace to Dry Creek, making the site ready for development.

The building will sit snugly between the original SAHMRI building, which opened in 2013, and the University of Adelaide’s Health & Medical Science Building that was opened in 2017.

The former Weatherill state government committed to building a second SAHMRI building in the Adelaide BioMed Precinct in 2017 when it announced it would provide a 99-year lease on the land and move the Train Operation Control Centre.

As well as hosting the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy & Research, the building is also expected to be home to the SAiGEN Cancer Institute, a new independent genomics and immunotherapy centre dedicated to cancer research.

It will also allow SAHMRI to expand its research capacity in artificial intelligence, machine learning, health analytics and will make another floor available for health, biomed and pharmaceutical industries to gain a footprint in Adelaide BioMed City.

When in full operation, it is estimated as many as 600-700 patients will be able to be treated at the facility each year – with around half of these expected to be children and young adults.

SAHMRI Executive Director Professor Steve Wesselingh said the Australian Bragg Centre would be built on the emerging technology of proton therapy.

“The building’s three underground levels are dedicated to a facility that will not only deliver life-saving treatment to cancer patients, in particular children, but will provide potential for research to unlock further benefits of this relatively new field and be a training ground for proton therapy specialists from throughout the Asia Pacific region and beyond,” he said.

“This building will also facilitate innovation spanning a range of fields including research and development, clinical trials and training.”

Commercial & General Executive Chair Jamie McClurg said this morning’s announcement was the culmination of four years of hard work by all those involved.

“Our health team has been forging strategic alliances with leading cancer centres around the world to ensure that the Australian Bragg Centre can be a beacon for sufferers and researchers,” he said.

“What we’ve been able to achieve through this innovative partnership between the private sector and Federal and State governments is on multi-institutional complex with a single aim – to attack cancer from every angle for the benefit of patients now and in the future.”

ProTom International will install its Radiance 330 proton therapy system at the centre, the same as is used at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

President and CEO Stephen Spotts said ProTom was delighted to provide a key element of the new centre.

“The Radiance 330 will revolutionise cancer treatment not only in South Australia, or even Australia, but across the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

Premier Steven Marshall said this project will further bolster the state’s international credentials and create significant economic stimulus and jobs in the wake of COVID-19.

“This significant development will put SA on the map as a pioneer in world-leading, lifesaving proton therapy cancer treatment,” he said.

“It will also provide the state’s building industry with significant economic stimulus as we emerge from the greatest economic challenge of our time, supporting as many as 1000 jobs and generating an estimated $1 billion in economic activity during the construction phase.

“We are pleased to support this project and look forward to it coming to fruition as a new, iconic landmark along North Terrace.”

The centre will take its name from pioneering South Australian scientists William and Lawrence Bragg, who shared the 1915 Nobel Prize for Physics, in recognition of their work on protons and x-ray.

Lawrence Bragg was born in Adelaide in the late 19th century when the family lived here, and attended St Peter’s College and Adelaide University.

📰Full story on the link below:

https://indaily.com.au/news/local/2020/06/10/proton-therapy-focus-of-sahmri-2/

Giant strides towards our first proton therapy unit for tumours

Giant strides towards our first proton therapy unit for tumours

Published By The Advertiser – May 2019

Story By: Brad Crouch

 

Nurse Kate Pagnozzi had to take a frightening trip to the other side of the world destroy a brain tumour. Others may soon find the same treatment in Adelaide.

When Kate Pagnozzi, 22, faced the daunting challenge of proton therapy treatment to pulverise an inoperable brain tumour, she had to deal with the “terrifying” ordeal of flying to Jacksonville, Florida for 10 weeks.

Kate is now back in Australia optimistically waiting for scans to show the success of the treatment — and is thrilled that Australia’s first planned proton therapy unit in Adelaide has taken several strides forward.

“Maybe I’ll work there one day,” the registered nurse from Windsor Gardens said.

The Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research will be in a bunker in the planned $300 million SAHMRI 2 building, next to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) “cheesegrater” building on North Terrace.

The unit will treat around 800 patients a year, destroying cancer cells with radiation without damaging healthy tissues by delivering powerful proton beams precisely where needed.

Many will be South Australians like Kate who will no longer have to travel overseas for lifesaving treatment, while others will come from interstate and overseas to the SA Health and Biomedical Precinct.

In several landmark strides towards the only proton therapy unit in the southern hemisphere:

THE National Partnership Agreement between the Federal Government and State Government for $68 million to fund a new Proton Therapy Facility has been executed, meaning the first payment of $26.7 million from the Commonwealth can be made;

THIS is in addition to $44 million from the State which includes the land and relocation of major rail infrastructure on the site;

GLOBAL construction firm Lend Lease has been appointed by Adelaide developer Commercial & General as the builder;

SITE works are expected to commence this year and the SAHMRI 2 building finished by 2022;

SAHMRI has commenced a training plan to prepare the future professionals including clinicians from UniSA and the University of Adelaide, and is working with other global centres of excellence such as Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Pennsylvania and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in the UK to develop the expertise required to treat patients.

SAHMRI executive director Steve Wesselingh said South Australians can feel proud that SAHMRI has been chosen to develop Australia’s first proton therapy unit.

“These milestones are major steps towards a time in the near future when cancer patients, in particular children, will be able to readily access this lifesaving technology in Australia,” he said.

Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said the federal-state agreement is the next important step in delivering a world-class health and medical precinct.

“The facility will reiterate South Australia’s position on the health and medical research world stage — but most importantly it will improve the lives of patients,” he said.

For Kate, the unit will save others the ordeal she endured after what she thought was a blocked ear turned out to be a brain tumour.

She underwent surgery in October 2016 in the Royal Adelaide Hospital which removed about 95 per cent of the tumour, but a tiny residue too risky to remove was left.

Last September she left with her mother Natalie for Jacksonville, Florida, to undergo proton therapy treatment in an effort to destroy the remnant.

“I was terrified,” Kate said. “I had never been to America. I was not going there for a holiday, I was going for treatment, and there was a lot to take in while I was focused on my health.

“It’s completely different from Australia and I had to worry about all the differences between Australia and America, such as driving on the other side of the road and the different currency, and worry about my health at the same time.’’

During her 10 week stay other family members made a surprise visit, to her delight.

She has had just one scan since, as it takes time for the treatment to subside but is optimistic for the future.

“You have to have a positive mindset,” she said.

“I am glad other people in the future will be able to get this treatment at home.”

Kate’s mother Natalie Salvati is also pleased — she has been campaigning for proton therapy unit in Australia including with an online petition.

“It has been overwhelming reading stories from people who have been affected in the same way as Kate, in varying degrees, and not knowing what the future will bring for them,” she said.

“I sincerely hope that we have this lifesaving equipment in Australia, considering that the USA has over 40 of these machines alone. It has been an emotional rollercoaster ride with Kate, and something that no patient or carer should have to go through.”

📰Full story on the link below:

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/giant-strides-towards-our-first-proton-therapy-unit-for-tumours/news-story/f1ac7691145ad04002b7c78407e6818f

Shona’s desperate race again time to fight off rare cancer

Shona’s desperate race again time to fight off rare cancer

Published by The Advertiser – October 2018

Story By: Elisa Black

 

SHONA Edwards needs a special type of therapy that will be available when SAHMRI 2 is completed here in Adelaide next year. But she can’t wait that long, sparking a desperate mission to get the young woman the help she needs to survive.

BE glad, be good, be brave – Shona Edwards has thought a lot about those words this year.

She thought about them when doctors found an 18cm tumour at the base of her spine in March after years of pain.

When surgery in May to cut the mass from her body had to be stopped as she began to bleed out.

And again when she woke and discovered the operation had left her with nerve damage that means she cannot control her bladder and sometimes has to use a wheelchair.

Be glad, be good, be brave. These are the words that Shona, 23, hopes will get her over the next hurdle with as much grace as possible.

Doctors say the only way to potentially treat her cancer – a rare papillary meningioma that has wrapped itself around nerves in her lower back – is proton beam radiation.

Adelaide will be the first place in Australia to offer the treatment when SAHMRI 2 is complete but Shona needs the therapy now.

People say ‘I’d be a mess if I was you’, but you just deal with it as best you can.

“The tumour won’t respond to chemo, and regular radiation treatment would put me at risk of organ damage and secondary tumours,’’ she said.

First images, video of the $300 million Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research in Adelaide’s health and biomedical precinct

First images, video of the $300 million Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research in Adelaide’s health and biomedical precinct

Published by The Advertiser – June 2018

Story By: Brad Crouch

 

THE innovative future of healthcare in Adelaide has taken another step forward, as details of the imposing new $300 million SAHMRI 2 project are revealed.

Architectural drawings show how the futuristic building will rise next to the iconic SA Health and Medical Research Institute, dubbed the “cheese grater”, in the multibillion-dollar SA Health and Biomedical Precinct.

It will house the southern hemisphere’s first proton therapy unit capable of killing inoperable cancers.

Its centrepiece will be a three-storey treatment and research bunker housing the proton therapy unit.

As well as helping local families who face mortgaging homes to seek such treatment overseas, the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research will draw patients from interstate and overseas plus researchers in a wealth and health boost for SA.

SAHMRI 2’s neighbours include the Royal Adelaide Hospital, the University of Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building, the UniSA Health Innovation Building and SAHMRI, which together form Adelaide BioMed City.

An application for planning approval for SAHMRI 2 was submitted in April following legal, financial and technical due diligence processes and the building is expected to be finished by 2021, creating 250 jobs in construction.

The 14-storey SAHMRI 2 will house more than 400 researchers in the first three floors, and the proton therapy unit will treat around 800 people a year.

The State Government has committed $44 million to the project, including relocating the Train Operating Control Centre from the site. The Federal Government will pay $68 million for the proton therapy unit with the balance sourced from the private sector.

The building, owned by Commercial & General, aims to complement the striking facade of the SAHMRI flagship which draws inspiration from a pine cone. SAHMRI executive director Professor Steve Wesselingh said the Australian Bragg Centre would deliver the most technologically advanced, precision radiation therapy ever seen in the southern hemisphere and has the potential to be part of the cure for a significant number of cancers.

“Hundreds of patients a year in Australia would benefit significantly from proton therapy,” he said.

“This is a game-changer for patients and will put South Australia on the global stage for cancer treatment.”

Commercial & General chief executive Trevor Cooke said it was a prime example of business and the medical sector working together to provide government with the platform for a revolution in treatment of cancer patients.

“We’ve been able to ensure South Australia will be at the absolute forefront of cancer treatment, further underlining the State’s burgeoning reputation as a leader in health.”

Woods Bagot’s Thomas Masullo said SAHMRI was a catalyst in revitalising the inner city and the evolution of the biomedical precinct.

📰Full story on the link below:

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/future-adelaide/first-images-video-of-the-300-million-sahmri-2-building-in-adelaides-health-and-biomedical-precinct/news-story/c38674b6147e5f653d4c9486ac061dba

Health: Game-changing research gives new hope to patients with cancer and other diseases

Health: Game-changing research gives new hope to patients with cancer and other diseases

Published by The Advertiser – November 2017

Story By: Katrina Stokes

 

BIG money, big science, big building — but for South Australians in dire need, the biggest deal coming to North Tce is a whiz-bang machine that can destroy inoperable cancers.

he southern hemisphere’s first Proton Therapy Unit will deliver intense radiation directly to tumours without damaging surrounding healthy tissue.

Powerful proton beams will target cancerous tissues within millimetres of vital organs without collateral damage, even when there is slight movement such as breathing.

At present, people needing such treatment have to go overseas at huge cost — federal subsidies are available and government sends a small number of patients to America, Japan or Europe for proton therapy every year.

However, for some people the choice to save a loved one’s life can mean mortgaging the home.

The Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research will be based in the $240 million SAHMRI 2 building, due to open in 2020.

It will stand next to the flagship South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) building in the multi-billion dollar SA Biomedical Research Precinct.

The Federal Government has committed $68 million to the project and the State Government $44 million.

The unit’s particle accelerator will occupy an underground concrete bunker and the 14-storey building will house some 400 researchers with space for industry partners.

The unit is expected to attract patients from across Australia, Asia and the Pacific, treating around 800 people a year, further cementing Adelaide’s reputation as a centre of medical excellence.

While there has been some controversy over the tender process and the project is behind schedule, officials are confident the proton beam therapy will dramatically improve cancer treatment and also be a valuable research tool.

Associate Professor Michael Penniment from the University of Adelaide’s Department of Radiation Oncology said the unit is a precise way of delivering radiation therapy.

“Proton therapy allows us to define where the beam stops in a patient and avoid critical tissues,” he said.

William Bragg and his son Lawrence working at Adelaide University in 1915 discovered the Bragg Peak, which is the fundamental principal of proton therapy and the reason why protons can miss important tissues.

“In Australia, around 600 to 800 patients a year would benefit significantly from proton therapy.

“Proton therapy units are expensive but, once purchased, the accelerator in Adelaide will have three rooms, treat over 1000 people per year and be fully operational for more than 20 years.”

📰Full story on the link below:

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/smart-sa/proton-therapy-machine-that-can-destroy-inoperable-cancers-to-be-housed-in-sahmri-2/news-story/6e01277457194546c891761c0e916724