Bulgaria Participates in Joint Project for Development of Advanced Cancer Therapy Research Institute in Southeast Europe

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Nine countries are developing a joint project to build an international research institute in south-eastern Europe to treat cancer using the most advanced methods, Prof. Dr. Leander Litov told the participants in a master class on particle therapy on Wednesday in Varna, on the Black Sea. Litov is the head of Sofia University’s team involved in the research conducted at the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

The master class, part of the International Particle Physics Outreach Group (IPPOG) programme in Bulgaria, was organised by the Nicolaus Copernicus Public Astronomical Observatory and Planetarium in Varna, the Faculty of Physics at Sofia University and Sofia Tech Park, in cooperation with OSOS – Open Schools for Open Society. Students from Varna and the region took part in the training. It aimed to demonstrate the importance of basic research for applications in medicine. The focus was on techniques used to treat cancer by irradiation with photon radiation and accelerated charged particle beams, the Observatory said.

Litov stressed that cancer rates in Europe are steadily increasing. They are also becoming the number one cause of death for people, with a higher mortality rate in Southeastern Europe compared to other regions of the continent, Litov said. One of the reasons for this, he noted, is that there are not as many good prevention programmes to “catch” the disease at an earlier stage. In addition, not all modern ways of treating tumors are available to the masses, Litov added.

Litov talked about the different types of particle accelerators, including those at the most advanced centres in the world. He also talked about the project of the nine countries, including Bulgaria, to establish a joint international research institute with a centre for proton and light ion acceleration. The region has a population of about 43 million, Litov said, adding that Bulgarian scientists are working on a new particle accelerator that would be smaller and cheaper. In addition to treating patients, research into treating tumours will be a priority for the international institute.

Litov also said that the cost of the project is around EUR 260 million, with a substantial part of the funds expected to be provided with the help of the European Commission. The centre will require around EUR 18 million a year to operate, half of which could be provided by patient treatment and the rest by membership fees from countries.

/YV/

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