A study shows that helium ions can be more precisely delivered to tumours than protons or carbon ions, which are presently the only beams licensed for treatment, with a biological effectiveness between the two. The accelerator required for helium is considerably smaller than a standard carbon ion synchrotron. To exploit the potential of helium therapy and of other emerging particle therapy techniques, in the framework of the Next Ion Medical Machine Study (NIMMS) at CERN, the design of a compact synchrotron optimised for acceleration of proton and helium beams has been investigated.
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