Daresbury Laboratory launches facility aimed at developing new cancer treatments


A new facility that will increase capacity for testing new radiotherapy technologies for cancer treatments has been launched at The Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory.

Varian Medical Systems will use the facility to scale up the testing of its advanced linear accelerator technology, which allows clinicians to deliver accurate, highly targeted doses of radiation to treat a range of cancers. These include cancers of the lung, prostate, breast, brain, spine, liver, pancreas, bone, among many others. As an essential part of the manufacturing process, these radiotherapy machines require specialist testing carried out by highly skilled technicians. Importantly, this testing must be performed in a radiation-protected environment due to the amount of radiation generated.
For the last two years, Varian, a leading developer of medical devices, has conducted this testing at Daresbury Laboratory, Iocated at Sci-Tech Daresbury in the Liverpool City Region. Here it has been using the existing radiation-protective infrastructure and the technical expertise available on-site to carry out this essential work. However, increased requirement to manufacture more of these radiotherapy machines has required Varian to upscale its testing capacity.
Designed and built in collaboration with a team of experts at Daresbury Laboratory, the new, bespoke testing facility enables Varian to more than triple its testing and manufacturing capacity. This has led to the creation of five new jobs at Daresbury Laboratory as well as new jobs at the Varian site in Crawley.
Paul Vernon, Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said: “Daresbury Laboratory has pioneered particle accelerators throughout its 60-year history. These systems are highly complex but are proving to be essential technology for the development of new generation radiotherapy systems for treating cancer. I am thrilled that, in collaboration with Varian, our on-site team here at Daresbury has the expertise and experience to design and build this vital safe testing facility to meet Varian’s requirements. Furthermore, this was all completed to a very tight timescale under the pressure of Covid-19 restrictions. This has been a tremendous effort by our team and is a great opportunity to support industry through access to our world-class science and facilities which, in turn will benefit our economy and the health and wellbeing of our society.”
Andy Partridge, Vice President APAC EMEA Manufacturing at Varian said: “By working with STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, Varian will now produce and test many more HalcyonTM radiotherapy systems within the UK. This work leads to increased productivity, the creation of new jobs and supporting the development of cancer treatment. Our ground-breaking Halcyon system combines fast and high-quality treatments with comfort and convenience, all of which come together to optimise the patient experience in the fight against cancer. This collaboration is a fantastic platform for joint innovation and is already helping us to accelerate the development of new products and solutions for our customers.”


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