The use of ion beams in cancer radiotherapy is an emerging approach, which exploits the advantageous energy deposition properties of ions as compared to commonly used X-rays. While most existing centres employ protons, the interest in heavier ion species (e.g. Carbon) is growing, particularly in relation to a wide class of radioresistant tumours. The high cost of the facilities required (particularly for Carbon) is a limiting factor to the growth of ion therapy, and the use of laser-accelerated beams as a future cost-saving alternative is attracting significant interest worldwide.
Based on emerging laser-driven mechanisms for efficient acceleration of both protons and heavier ion species, the A-SAIL project aims to progress laser-based acceleration to therapeutically relevant parameters. Testing the biological effects of laser-accelerated beams is a key objective, with particular attention to any novel effect related to the ultrahigh dose rates (>109 Gy/s) associated to the ion bursts.
Within this framework, the PhD project will aim to develop a platform enabling the assessment of the radiobiological effectiveness of laser-accelerated carbon ion beams. The production and delivery of Carbon ions at energies and particle densities suitable for radiobiological investigations will be pursued in experiments at major high-power laser facilities in UK and abroad. Employing these beams, the project will test, with relevant assays in cell and tissue models (including investigations under hypoxia), the quality and quantity of DNA damage produced by the laser-driven carbon ions, which will be comparatively assessed against irradiations employing protons, x-rays and conventional Carbon bunches from RF accelerators.
Entry Requirements: 2:1 (or equivalent) in a cognate physical sciences or engineering discipline.
This studentship covers fees and a maintenance stipend at current EPSRC rate.
Eligibility: UK and EU nationals who meet residency requirements (https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/)
T.Ohno, Particle radiotherapy with carbon ion beams, The EPMA Journal 4, 9, 2013
C.D. Schlaff et al, Bringing the heavy: carbon ion therapy in theradiobiological and clinical context, Radiation Oncology, 9, 88 2014
A.Macchi, M.Borghesi, M. Passoni, Ion acceleration by superintense laser-plasma interaction, Rev. Mod. Phys., 85, 751 (2013)
K.W.D Ledingham et al, Towards Laser Driven Hadron Cancer Radiotherapy: A Review of Progress, Appl. Sci, 4 , 402 (2014)
D.Doria et al, Biological cell irradiation at ultrahigh dose rate employing laser driven protons, AIP Advances, 2, 011209 (2012)
S. Kar et al, Ion acceleration in multispecies targets driven by intense laser radiation pressure Phys. Rev. Lett., 109, 185006 (2012)
A-SAIL project: http://www.qub.ac.uk/A-SAIL