CERN and Life Sciences in Western Switzerland and worldwide | BioAlps

(Switzerland / English)

BioAlps, the Regional Innovation System of Western Switzerland, features CERN in its testimonial series as part of its ecosystem’s 20th anniversary celebrations. Radiotherapy, medical imaging, radioisotopes, CERN scientists support the continuous development of innovative solutions in the medical and biomedical fields.

With a view to finding  innovative solutions in the medical and biomedical fields, CERN scientists support the continuous development of more compact and better performing radiotherapy machines. In Switzerland, CERN is collaborating with the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) to create an electron FLASH radiotherapy device, which delivers high doses of radiation within milliseconds rather than minutes, potentially reducing harmful side effects. CERN has also licensed the design of a very compact accelerator element, a radiofrequency quadrupole (RFQ), to the Meyrin-based CERN spin-off ADAM S.A. (now part of Advanced Oncotherapy plc, United Kingdom) for integration into a breakthrough compact linear proton therapy machine.

The research required for the development of particle detectors leads to the development of faster and more precise technologies that are applicable in medical imaging. The Medipix3 chip, for instance, detects individual photons and analyses their energy. It has been integrated into an X-ray CT scanner by MARS Bioimaging Ltd (New Zealand) that uses the unique capabilities of Medipix3 to provide spectroscopic information in addition to a 3D picture. The first MARS scanner in Europe was installed at CHUV in June 2021. Additionally, with Innosuisse’s support, CERN collaborates with the Geneva-based startup TERAPET SA on the development of their proton therapy dosimetry system.

Another initiative, MEDICIS, is a CERN-based facility that is part of an international collaboration dedicated to the development of unconventional radioisotopes for medical research, with Swiss partners like the Paul Scherrer Institut, the Geneva University Hospitals and CHUV. In computer sciences, the Institute for Global Health (University of Geneva) and CERN collaborate with internationally renowned institutes and industry on the development of BioDynamo, an open-source platform for complex biological simulations.

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