LONDON (Reuters) - The giant particle-smashing machine run by CERN outside Geneva is not only unravelling the mysteries of the universe, it may also be opening up new avenues to treat cancer.
Now a small British company, Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO.L), aims to tap into that know-how through a small deal announced on Wednesday to acquire a CERN spin-off business developing new forms of radiotherapy to fight tumours.
The spin-off, known as Adam, was established in 2007 by CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, to build low-cost innovative accelerators for proton beam therapy (PBT) and conventional radiotherapy.
Unlike traditional X-rays, PBT can blast tumours without damage to surrounding tissue - a particular benefit when cancer occurs in the brain, spine or eyes.
Protons are fundamental particles found inside the atomic nucleus and can be focused much more accurately than X-rays. The big problem is that the large accelerators needed to make them are very expensive, raising questions over cost-effectiveness.
In future, scientists at CERN believe they can make them far more cheaply by using a new kind of linear accelerator. The approach is expected to reduce costs by around two-thirds, according to a spokesman for Advanced Oncotherapy.
Advanced Oncotherapy will pay for Adam in shares, giving CERN scientist Alberto Colussi, who founded the CERN business, a continuing stake in the technology.
The price paid in stock and warrants will be equivalent to 29.9 percent of Advanced Oncotherapy’s market value, which stood at 2.85 million pounds at the close on Tuesday.
Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter