Overview: Health Innovation
In the area of Health Innovation, several research groups at PSI are engaged in the study of fundamental questions regarding biology and cancer treatment.
Understanding molecules and structures
The focus of research into fundamental biological issues is on clarifying the structure and function of proteins – biomolecules which control the behaviour of living cells in a wide variety of ways – as well as processes in larger structures such as the cytoskeleton or biological tissue.
To study protein structures, researchers at PSI not only use traditional biochemical and biophysical methods, but also synchrotron light provided by the Swiss Light Source SLS at PSI, where beamlines have been developed specifically for the analysis of biomolecules.
PSI scientists also use synchrotron light to investigate the structures and processes in biological tissue, such as the nervous system. They want to understand how vital processes such as learning or ageing, function and how diseases evolve. The ultimate goal is to find medicines that allow people to live as healthy a life as possible.
New approaches to cancer treatment
As far as application-orientated research is concerned, researchers are focusing their attention on the diagnosis and therapy of cancerous diseases. In collaboration with university hospitals, they are concentrating on methods of tumour diagnosis and treatment where PSI's particle beams are most beneficial, with collaboration between experts in different technical fields playing a particularly important role. Proton beam therapy for cancer and the development of modern radiopharmaceuticals for the diagnosis and treatment of tumours fall into this area of study.
Tumour therapy with protons
Patients with tumours have been treated at the proton therapy facility at PSI since 1984. This facility, developed and built on the PSI site by the Institute's own experts, is unique in the world. Its irradiation technique makes use of the inherent advantages of protons, which allow the selective destruction of a tumour while optimally protecting the healthy tissue surrounding it. In consultation with the Centre for Proton Therapy at PSI, doctors can refer patients to PSI for treatment.
Targeted treatment with therapeutic molecules
In the area of radiopharmacy, researchers are concerned with very small tumours distributed throughout the whole body. These cannot be treated with conventional radiation therapy, so PSI is creating therapeutic molecules by combining particular biomolecules, known as antibodies, with a radioactive atomic nucleus. Molecules of this kind are then able to selectively target and destroy tumour cells. PSI is working in very close co-operation with universities, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry in order to ensure the most effective co-ordination of its fundamental research in this field with clinical trials in hospitals.
If you are visiting this page as a patient, relative or doctor to find out about the proton therapy carried out at PSI, please follow this link to obtain further information.