Hupti’s Equipment Has Begun To Arrive From Belgium

Massive equipment has started to arrive at the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI) from Ion Beam Applications (IBA), the equipment vendor headquartered in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Located off Magruder Boulevard in Hampton, HUPTI is the largest free-standing proton cancer treatment center in the world, and is expected to treat over 2,000 patients per year with prostate, breast, lung and pediatric cancers upon opening in the fall of 2010.

Proton therapy is arguably the most precise form of cancer treatment available, because of its unique ability to accurately target and kill tumors at any location within the body, while sparing surrounding healthy tissue to a much larger degree than conventional radiation therapy.

“Everything is going well and the cyclotron is coming on time, which is the most important step in the installation process,” said Antoine Dubois, IBA site manager for the HUPTI project, who manages the day-to-day progress of installation. “We look forward to producing the beam line and providing the beam to the treatment rooms.”

According to Dubois the first of five shipments began arriving in late December and included four gantries, the beam line, control units and power supplies.

The first steps in the installation process began shortly after, such as electrical infrastructure and the rigging and installation of magnets and gantries. Dubois said rigging is referred to as the physical installation; using a crane, the equipment is installed in the proton therapy center and must be aligned perfectly using careful surveying work. Rigging is a small portion of the entire project which will take about 12 months, Dubois noted.

The most important piece of equipment is the 200-ton cyclotron, which left the port of Antwerp in Belgium today and is expected to arrive at the Portsmouth, Va. port in early February. The cyclotron is a particle accelerator that spins protons to two-thirds the speed of light, sending the resulting proton beam through a beam line to 90-ton gantries that sit three stories high. The gantries rotate to allow the beam to be delivered at any angle around the patient.

Prior to shipment, the equipment went through rigorous testing at the IBA facility in Belgium.

“It was very gratifying to see our cyclotron actually running, and to understand what the testing procedures are and how performance is being measured,” said Dr. Cynthia Keppel, scientific and technical director, HUPTI, who participated in the testing. “I was also very pleased to see how truly careful and thorough IBA is in their procedures for quality control and assurance.”

Currently, there are five operating facilities in the U.S. and another five under construction. IBA has equipped 13 of the 17 facilities worldwide. No other free-standing proton center has five treatment rooms, or is as large as 98,000 square feet, making HUPTI the largest in the world.

For additional information, please contact Sarita L. Scott at 757.727.5620 or use our contact form.