12 June

The Argentine Proton Therapy Center (CeArP, in Spanish) is being built in Buenos Aires City as a joint work of the National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA, in Spanish), the University of Buenos Aires (UBA, in Spanish) and INVAP. It will be the first proton center for the treatment of cancer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, visited the construction site of the CeArP, a project led by the Argentine National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA, in Spanish) and the University of Buenos Aires (UBA, in Spanish), with the collaboration of INVAP, a company of the province of Río Negro.

During the tour, he was accompanied by Santiago Cafiero, Head of the Cabinet of Ministers; Carla Vizzotti, National Minister of Health; Adriana Serquis, President of CNEA; and Alberto Barbieri, Rector of the UBA; together with authorities of INVAP and the Ángel H. Roffo Institute of Oncology.

After his visit to the CeArP construction site, President Fernández reflected on “how much the health of our inhabitants needs the State. This project is a joint effort of three great institutions we are proud of, such as the UBA, INVAP and CNEA, which is devoted to the use of the atomic energy for health care.” He also stated that physicians and other professionals have already traveled abroad to learn this new technology of millimetric precision for the treatment of cancer.

For her part, CNEA president, Adriana Serquis, highlighted that “nuclear medicine is the best example of the application of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” an objective that CNEA has pursued for more than 70 years. “These decisions on strategic articulation among different institutions will continue to promote the idea that science and technology have to be at the service of society,” Serquis concluded.

In turn, Vizzotti explained that during the pandemic tests to detect cancer were reduced by 60% worldwide; thus, a center of this kind “will vindicate public health” and “will also significantly strengthen Argentina and the region as a whole.” Meanwhile, Barbieri celebrated the political decision of the State to launch this “project of great significance” and emphasized the importance of training experts, physicians and scientists who will take care of thousands of Argentines in their fight against cancer.

State-of-the-art equipment

A cyclotron —the most important machine in the system— and several parts associated with proton transport recently arrived to the country from Belgium. Together with other state-of-the art equipment, they will be installed in the nearly eight thousand square-meter facility that is being built next to the Nuclear Diagnosis Center Foundation (FCDN, in Spanish) and opposite the Ángel H. Roffo Institute of Oncology, with which the CeArP will be closely related for the integral care and support of patients with cancer.

The CeArP —that will then be the first institute of its kind in Argentina and Latin America— will be divided in two clinical treatments sectors: with protons and photons. It will also include the Laboratory for Research and Development in Proton Therapy (LAIDEP, in Spanish) aimed at promoting research, development and human resources training activities. Besides, it will be able to offer services to the industry, such as satellite components assessment, among others.

What is proton therapy?

It is one of the modalities used in radiotherapy to treat different oncological diseases, especially tumors that are difficult to access. Because of its precision, it is considered the most advanced form of radiotherapy, since the proton beams used leave most of its energy in the tumor and preserve the adjacent healthy tissues, thus enhancing the patients’ quality of life.

Proton therapy is particularly appropriate when treatment options are limited. It also has specific benefits in the treatment of children with cancer. For this reason, CeArP professionals will work in close clinical collaboration with Prof. Dr. Juan P. Garrahan pediatric hospital.

Cutting-edge technology for the whole country

Nowadays, only 20 countries in the world have this cancer-fighting technology. The CeArP will make up-to-date proton therapy technology available throughout the Southern Cone for the first time, becoming part of the public health system and the network of Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy Centers of the country under the responsibility of the CNEA, the main institution implementing the National Nuclear Medicine Plan. This plan brings together the largest research groups in Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT), radioisotope production for the whole country and the region, and the training of specialized human resources through institutes linked to national public universities.

National Commission of Atomic Energy