Scanning irradiation device for mice in vivo with pulsed and continuous proton beams
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A technical set-up for irradiation of subcutaneous tumours in mice with nanosecond-pulsed proton beams or continuous proton beams is described and was successfully used in a first experiment to explore future potential of laser-driven particle beams, which are pulsed due to the acceleration process, for radiation therapy. The chosen concept uses a microbeam approach. By focusing the beam to approximately 100 × 100 μm2, the necessary fluence of 109 protons per cm2 to deliver a dose of 20 Gy with one-nanosecond shot in the Bragg peak of 23 MeV protons is achieved. Electrical and mechanical beam scanning combines rapid dose delivery with large scan ranges. Aluminium sheets one millimetre in front of the target are used as beam energy degrader, necessary for adjusting the depth–dose profile. The required procedures for treatment planning and dose verification are presented. In a first experiment, 24 tumours in mice were successfully irradiated with 23 MeV protons and a single dose of 20 Gy in pulsed or continuous mode with dose differences between both modes of 10%. So far, no significant difference in tumour growth delay was observed.