An inside look at the company which brought high energy Proton Therapy to the UK

By - World Healthcare Journal
An inside look at the company which brought high energy Proton Therapy to the UK

WHJ Editor Sarah Cartledge talks to Mike Moran, CEO of Proton Partners International

It’s hard to believe that Proton Partners International was only founded four years ago on World Cancer Day, 4th February 2015. The company, which started as an idea to deliver high energy proton therapy treatment to cancer patients in the UK, has quickly transformed into the world’s leading provider of proton therapy centres, as well as a key player within the diagnostic and research fields.

Mike Moran, the Chief Executive Officer of Proton Partners International, founded the company alongside Professor Karol Sikora, the former Chair of the World Health Organisation’s Cancer Programme, as well as a panel of British and international oncology experts.

Mr Moran spoke of his initial vision for the company: “We were aware that Britain was lagging behind other countries such as the United States, Switzerland or Germany, which all had been providing proton therapy for decades, and we felt strongly that this treatment ought to be available in the UK.

“It’s no secret that dealing with cancer can be a hugely stressful time for the patient and their family, so we envisioned a network of cancer centres across the country which placed patient wellbeing at the fore, while ensuring that high energy proton beam therapy would eventually be within driving distance to all who need it. ”

The company is planning to build eight Rutherford Cancer Centres across the UK, with the aim that 75 per cent of the population will live within a 90-minute drive of a treatment centre by 2021. Three centres in Newport, Reading and Northumberland are currently open, with the fourth centre in Liverpool under construction. Each centre will offer chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy alongside high energy proton therapy.

The Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales in Newport became the first place in the UK to treat a patient with high energy proton beam therapy in April 2018, and has since treated a variety of patients across cancers such as prostate, breast, head and neck. In December, it was announced that the centre was approved to treat adult patients in Wales on the National Health Service, ensuring that treatment is now available to all eligible patients in Wales regardless of their financial circumstances.

In addition to its UK cancer centres, Proton Partners International is also working with the Gulf International Cancer Centre in order to provide high energy proton beam therapy at its Abu Dhabi Proton Centre – the first of its kind within the Middle East.

However, the Rutherford Cancer Centres are just one branch of Proton Partners International. The company operates three other divisions: Rutherford Estates, Rutherford Diagnostics and Rutherford Innovations.

Rutherford Estates handles the construction and ongoing management of each site such as the cancer centres themselves, while Rutherford Innovations
is focused on research and development within oncology. Rutherford Diagnostics works to predict, prevent and detect diseases in their earliest stages, conducting complex diagnostic testing across a wide range of conditions and providing core technologies including CT, PET-CT, MR, ultrasound, endoscopy, genomics and personalised screening.

“We envisioned a network of cancer centres across the country which placed patient wellbeing at the fore”

Mike Moran, CEO, Proton Partners International 

Mike Moran explains: “For us, treatment is only part of the solution – we need to be able to research and pursue innovations within oncology while also working to detect issues and diagnose patients at the earliest possible point. In 2016, 828 new cases of cancer were diagnosed each day in the UK alone and we feel strongly that we must work to tackle all aspects of this disease – not only the treatment itself but also its prevention and early intervention. ”

While 2018 might have seemed like a busy year for Proton Partners International, 2019 doesn’t give any indication of a change of pace for the company. The Rutherford Cancer Centre North East in Northumberland and its sister site the Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley in Reading both opened last year for treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, their proton therapy units are set to open in Spring and Autumn 2019 respectively following completion.

The company is also set to open its Rutherford Diagnostics Headquarters in Liverpool later this year, following a ground-breaking ceremony on 8th January, with additional centres planned across the country soon after.

As Mr Moran says, “We never do anything by halves – when we set out to bring high energy proton therapy to the UK, we are committed to providing the best possible service across the board. The last four years have gone at breakneck speed as we’ve worked towards making this happen, and this is just the beginning. We have a brilliant team behind us, and it’s truly inspiring to meet with patients at our centres and realise how important it is that we bring this highly advanced treatment to as many people as possible across the UK. ”

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