Human Health

In the area of Human Health, several research groups at PSI are engaged in the study of fundamental questions regarding biology and cancer therapy.

Determining protein structures

The focus of research on fundamental biological issues is on the determination of the structure and function of proteins – biomolecules which control the behaviour of living cells in a wide variety of ways. Apart from using traditional biochemical and biophysical methods to explain protein structures, research is also being performed using synchrotron light at the Swiss Light Source (SLS) at PSI, and individual beam-lines have been specially developed for the analysis of biomolecules.

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. Doctors can refer patients for treatment in consultation with PSI's own medical department.

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.

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