Local med-tech start-up P-Cure is working hard to break economic barriers so that proton radiation therapy becomes accessible to all eligible cancer patients.Based in Shilat, near Modi’in, P-Cure makes the most advanced type of proton therapy available. “We truly believe that this is a new era of radiation therapy of cancer,” CEO and founder Michael Marash told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.The company, he explained, has developed technology that “unprecedentedly removed economic barriers prohibiting proton therapy use in the mainstream clinical practice.”Marash highlighted that P-Cure’s manufactured proton therapy solution “is the only 360-degrees gantry-less proton therapy system that fits into any operating radiation oncology department.”Proton therapy is the most technologically advanced method of delivering radiation treatments to cancerous tumors that is available today.“The unique characteristics of how protons interact within the human body allow it to deliver curative radiation doses while reducing doses to healthy tissues and organs, resulting in fewer complications and side effects than standard radiation therapy,” Marash explained. “Understanding how proton therapy works provides patients and physicians with insight into the clinical advantages of this treatment modality.”He added that the major advantage of proton therapy treatment over standard radiation therapy is that protons “slowly deposit their energy as they travel toward the cancerous tumor and then due to a unique physical characteristic called the ‘Bragg peak,’ deposit the majority of the radiation dose directly in the tumor and travel no further through the body.”This, he added, also leads to “the potential for fewer harmful side effects, more direct impact on the tumor, and increased tumor control.”Going into P-Cure’s origins, Marash said that from the beginning, P-Cure started by designing a patient-centric system, placing the patient in a preferable, seated position.“We expanded the offer by providing the most compact and versatile full proton therapy system that simulates, plans, positions and treats patients in the same seated position with enhanced patient comfort and clinical results, treating all age patients and all treatment indications with adaptive, tailored proton therapy protocols,” he said.According to Marash, proton therapy is the most effective cancer radiation treatment.“However, access to proton therapy today is very limited,” he said. “Less than 2% of the patients that can benefit from proton therapy have access to this advanced form of treatment.”Asked why there aren’t more cancer patients benefiting from the superior benefits of proton therapy, Marash told the Post that the capital cost of developing a proton center has been the limiting factor in making proton therapy available.“Today, there appears to be more options for reducing start-up costs, mainly by building a one-room center,” he explained. “But the lower cost is illusionary: a multi-room center of three or four rooms may cost between $140 million-$180m. and a one room center may cost between $40m.-$50m. Comparing the cost per treatment vault, the proportional cost is approximately the same for a large proton center as it is for a one-room center.”In 2007, Marash founded P-Cure with the clear objective to move proton therapy to the mainstream clinical practice.“P-Cure invented proprietary technology that enables elimination of gantry, the most gigantic and expensive part of the proton therapy system, reduction in proton therapy costs and increase in its clinical benefits,” he continued. “Today, P-Cure offers the most compact next generation proton therapy system that fits in spaces occupied by conventional radiotherapy systems in existing hospitals and oncology centers.”Marash pointed out that when he founded the company, his intention was to design proton therapy around the patient “in a more natural and anatomically correct solution,” and in addition to new clinical benefits, he wanted to make proton therapy more available to patients.“Physicians have looked for ways to use radiation to treat cancer since the discovery of X-rays over a century ago. Advances in technology and a better understanding of its effects on the body have made radiation therapy an important part of cancer treatment. The P-Cure solution is part of the continuum to advance what’s best for the patient.Marash said he also clearly sees a trend toward establishing new proton therapy facilities.“The first hospital-based center opened 30 years ago, the second one opened only 10 years after, in 2000... [and] today, over 90 proton centers are operational [worldwide],” he said. “Almost 200,000 patients have been treated.”He said he is also aware of about 37 additional centers that are in various stages of planning or construction.“Despite of the trend though, the use of protons in clinics is still very marginal and [it’s] here [that] the role of P-Cure is paramount,” Marash added.In Israel, he said that they were very happy to hear that the Health Ministry “eventually gave a green light to build a proton therapy facility.“The recently published information indicates that the center, national by nature, will be built by Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv,” he said.This year, Marash said P-Cure is expecting to receive FDA and CE to its additional product configurations.“P-Cure is [also] setting up its training, customer services center in Israel to serve worldwide customers, expanding and building new sales channels in the US, Europe, India and other areas and of course covers the huge Chinese market through its joint venture,” he concluded.The company is at the revenue stage with focuses on the US, China and Israel, targeting the markets of 20,000 radiation therapy rooms.