Hyperfine Interactions

, Volume 213, Issue 1–3, pp 159–174 | Cite as

The antiproton cell experiment—do antiprotons offer advantages over other particle beam modalities?

  • Stefan Sellner
  • Rebecca Boll
  • Massimo Caccia
  • Loretta Negrini
  • Tina Straße
  • Sara Tegami
  • Michael H. Holzscheiter
  • The ACE collaboration


The use of heavy charged particles for cancer therapy has the potential for a significant improvement of the therapeutic window compared to standard X-ray treatments. This is due to the improved energy deposition profile, exhibiting a well-defined peak at a depth in target controllable by the initial energy of the beam. Particles heavier than protons in addition show an increase in biological effectiveness. Compared to protons or heavy ions, antiprotons deposit additional annihilation energy, mostly by low energy recoils, resulting in an increase of dose and also adding a component with high biological effectiveness in the target region. The relative magnitude of the physical energy deposition of antiprotons compared to protons was measured at Low Energy Antiproton Ring (LEAR) by A. Sullivan, but no study of the biological effect had been conducted prior to the Antiproton Cell Experiment (AD-4/ACE) experiment at CERN. The special conditions found at CERN present significant challenges, but also offer unique opportunities. 500 ns pulses of antiprotons are extracted from the Antiproton Decelerator (AD) at 500 MeV/c momentum. Biological cell samples are irradiated and clonogenic survival fractions are measured for various doses. To extract biological efficiency, the physical dose deposition is obtained by Monte-Carlo calculations in conjunction with shot-by-shot monitoring of the incoming beam intensity and profile using a silicon pixel detector. Also imaging of the pions resulting from antiproton annihilations in the target using silicon pixel detector technology to determine the actual range in more complex targets with strong variations in material densities was carried out. The feasibility of this technique using a novel arrangement of the detector was demonstrated. This paper describes the ACE experiment and focuses on the different detector activities within the AD-4/ACE collaboration, explaining the experimental set-up, physical and biological methods used, recent results, and future plans.


Antiprotons Cancer therapy Beam profilometry Real-time imaging 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
  2. 2.
    Wilson, R.R.: Radiological use of fast protons. Radiology 47, 487–491 (1946)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Skarsgard, L.D., et al.: Radiobiology of pions at TRIUMF. Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. 8, 2127–2132 (1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Holzscheiter, M.H., et al.: The biological effectiveness of antiproton irradiation. Radiother. Oncol. 81, 233–242 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fassò, A., et al.: FLUKA: a multi-particle transport code. CERN-2005–10 (2005)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kraft, G.: Tumor therapy with heavy charged particles. Prog. Part. Nucl. Phys. 45, 473–544 (2000)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Singers Sørensen, B., et al.: In vitro RBE-LET dependence for multiple particle types. Acta Oncol. 50, 757–762 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bassler, N., et al.: Dose- and LET-painting with particle therapy. Acta Oncol. 49, 1170–1176 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Grassberger, C., et al.: Variations in linear energy transfer within clinical proton therapy fields and the potential for biological treatment planning. Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. 80, 1559–1566 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Raju, M.R.: Heavy particle therapy. Academic Press, New York, ISBN 0-12-576250-X (1980)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Pickles, T., et al.: Pion conformal radiation of prostate cancer: results of a randomized study. Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 43, 47–55 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gray, L., et al.: Possible biomedical applications of antiproton beams: focused radiation transfer. Radiat. Res. 97, 246–252 (1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Inokuti, M.: Interactions of antiprotons with atoms and molecules. Nucl. Tracks Radiat. Meas. 16, 115–123 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Sullivan A.H.: A measurement of the local energy deposition by antiprotons coming to rest in tissue-like material. Phys. Med. Biol. 30, 1297–1303 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kalogeropoulos, T.E., et al.: Antiprotons for imaging and therapy. Nucl. Instrum. Methods B 4041, 1322–1325 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Niyazi, M., et al.: Counting colonies of clonogenic assays by using densitometric software. Radiat. Oncol. 2, 1–3 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Badano, L., et al.: Secondary emission monitor for low-interception monitoring (SLIM): an innovative nondestructive beam monitor for the extraction lines of a hadrontherapy center. IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci. 51, 2990–2998 (2004)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Badano, L., et al.: Laboratory and in-beam tests of a novel real-time beam monitor for hadrontherapy. IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci. 52, 830–833 (2005)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    The ALICE Collaboration: The ALICE experiment at the CERN LHC. J. Instrum. 3, S08002 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Holzscheiter, M.H., et al.: Status report for experiment AD-4/ACE biological effectiveness of antiproton annihilation. CERN-SPSC-2009-002 (2009)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pardo-Montero, J., et al.: Determining charge collection efficiency in parallel-plate liquid ionization chambers. Phys. Med. Biol. 54, 3677 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Tölli, H., et al.: A two-dose-rate method for general recombination correction for liquid ionization chambers in pulsed beams. Phys. Med. Biol. 55, 4247 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Highland, V.L.: Some practical remarks on multiple scattering. Nucl. Instrum. Methods 129, 497–499 (1975)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kovacevic, S., et al.: V-79 Chinese hamster cells irradiated with antiprotons, a study of peripheral damage due to medium and long range components of the annihilation radiation. Int. J. Radiat. Biol. 85, 1148–1156 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kavanagh, J.N., et al.: Experimental setup and first measurement of DNA damage induced along and around an antiproton beam. Eur. Phys. J. D 60, 209–214 (2010)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Sellner
    • 1
  • Rebecca Boll
    • 1
  • Massimo Caccia
    • 2
  • Loretta Negrini
    • 2
  • Tina Straße
    • 1
  • Sara Tegami
    • 1
  • Michael H. Holzscheiter
    • 1
    • 3
  • The ACE collaboration
  1. 1.Max-Plack-Institut für KernphysikHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Universitá dell’InsubriaComoItaly
  3. 3.University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

Personalised recommendations