Big Data is key to unlocking future cancer treatment says Proton Partners International chief medical officer Professor Karol Sikora.

Proton Partners is at the forefront of cancer treatment in the UK, recently announcing that it has officially completed testing on the UK’s first high energy proton beam machine.

Proton beam therapy allows the more precise delivery of radiotherapy and reduces long term damage to normal tissues surrounding a cancer.

Sikora believes that cutting-edge technology such as Big Data will be at the forefront of cancer breakthroughs going forward.

“Personalised designer therapy for every cancer patient is coming,” he told BusinessCloud.

“Understanding the mechanisms behind the cancer at a molecular level is the key to this.

“Collating information on genomics, imaging, circulating DNA in the blood and patient preferences will totally change the way oncologists make treatment decisions.”

READ MORE: PROTEUSONE BRINGS LATEST CANCER THERAPY TO UK

He believes that combining the different strategies for treatment at the right time is the future.

“Adding immunotherapy to radiotherapy with protons could be an ideal curative combination for some patients with a range of cancers,” he said.

“Serious clinical trials are underway to try to identify how to best use the plethora of data we now hold on cancer to achieve optimal outcomes for our patients.”

Currently therapies such as proton beam are still expensive. Proton therapy costs three to ten times more than conventional radiation, depending on the machine type. 

The Rutherford Cancer Centre in Wales was used as the testbed for the recent tests, and around 2,500 cancer patients a year will be treated with protons by 2020 at the five centres across Britain.

Nearly all European countries have had at least one operational proton centre for some years.

The NHS announced the plan to build two centres in in the UK in 2011, one at Christie Hospital, Manchester and one at University College Hospital, London but progress has been “very slow” says Sikora.

The Manchester centre is expected to open later this year but there have been delays in London.

Most European countries are planning for 10 per cent of radical radiotherapy to be delivered by protons – this means 18 centres in the UK, which is more than currently planned.