gms | German Medical Science

48th Meeting of the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group

Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group (PTCOG)

28.09. - 03.10.2009, Heidelberg

Protontherapy as an incentive for a national collaborative center. The SWAN approach

Meeting Abstract

  • K. von Bremen - SWAN Hadron AG, Bern, Switzerland
  • D. M. Aebersold - Universitätsklinik für Radio-Onkologie, Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland
  • S. Braccini - Laboratory for High Energy Physics, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

PTCOG 48. Meeting of the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group. Heidelberg, 28.09.-03.10.2009. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2009. Doc09ptcog218

doi: 10.3205/09ptcog218, urn:nbn:de:0183-09ptcog2183

Published: September 24, 2009

© 2009 von Bremen et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background: Switzerland is strongly committed to high end medicine and innovative technology in health care. Breakthrough technology was developed for protontherapy (PT) at the Paul Scherrer Institute, one of the few basic research centers in Europe actively involved in particle therapy developing innovative dose distribution systems for optimizing patient treatment. The constantly improving treatment options in oncology and radiation oncology are now prepared to integrate PT in patient treatment plans in the context of an academic clinical setting. In order to engage appropriately in this highly complex field, the Inselspital, University Hospital Bern has undertaken diligent work to identify the important aspects allowing the implementation of a PT center. As first key element has been identified the need for a systematic collaboration between clinical radiation therapy sites across the country.

Methods: A systematic literature review on PT was performed to show existing evidence and identify future clinical research areas. Technological feasibility was evaluated taking into account options from commercial companies and research institutions. A business case was developed identifying the opportunity for a national collaborative center. The organizational structure was designed to support the creation and the implementation of a national center build on a "partnership approach".

Results: The business case relies on a privately financed center, which concluded in the foundation of the SWAN group as a spin off group from Inselspital. While the SWANtec AG is a holding, two subsidiary companies were founded: (a) the SWAN Isotopen AG engages in the commercial production of radiopharmaceuticals for molecular imaging, (b) the SWAN Hadron AG is dedicated to plan, implement and run a PT center. The partnership model integrates clinical partners at three levels of expertise to participate actively in patient treatment. The highest level of expertise is represented by university hospital clinicians, physicists and scientists who might be holding part time positions in the SWAN center. Beside the SWAN companies, a dedicated research foundation is foreseen for projects to be financed. SWAN Hadron AG welcomes institutional partners as shareholders and investors. The land for the center is located within the perimeter of the Inselspital campus offering easy patient and partner access.

Conclusion: PT is an expensive single cancer treatment option. To justify its investment, PT centers have to show considerable patient benefits and adequate use of the technology. A national academic clinical center in which all committed clinicians, physicists and scientists are participating and share their experience is an innovative organizational approach. Private financing invites all partners to participate and benefit from the results. PT is an opportunity to enhance collaborative work and multidisciplinary research in a challenging health care environment.