World-first Technology for Cancer Treatment

An internationally renowned expert in image engineering based at the University of Lincoln has developed new medical imaging technology that could revolutionise cancer treatment. Professor Nigel Allinson MBE, Distinguished Professor of Image Engineering at Lincoln, leads this research and the international PRaVDA consortium, which has successfully developed one of the most complex medical instruments ever created to provide detailed images of the internal anatomy of cancer patients.

The world-first medical imaging technology created by PRaVDA will now make it possible to provide more effective radiotherapy treatment for thousands of cancer sufferers. Proton beam therapy has the ability to deliver high doses of radiation directly to a tumour site with very little radiation being absorbed in the healthy tissue surrounding it. It is particularly useful in treating cancer in children and tumours that are close to the body's vital structures such as in the head or near the spinal cord. The UK’s first proton therapy centres are due to open by 2020.

Professor Allinson’s team has produced the world’s first “proton CT scans” - a major step towards improving the quality and feasibility of proton beam therapy for cancer sufferers around the world. This ground-breaking work means that detailed three-dimensional images of a patient’s anatomy can now be created using protons rather than x-rays, and this will make Proton Therapy a more viable option for millions of cancer patients. 

To produce these Proton CT images, we built a unique medical imaging platform which uses the same high energy particles that are used to destroy a tumour during Proton Therapy treatment. The images we have created highlight the fantastic potential for using Proton CT images to aid cancer treatment in the very near future – as part as the planning process, as well as during and after treatments.

Professor Nigel Allinson MBE

The PRaVDA consortium, funded by a £1.8 million translation grant from the Wellcome Trust, is led by the University of Lincoln. It consists of five UK universities, four UK NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts, including the University of Cape Town and IThemba LABS in South Africa, and the Karolinska University Hospital, Sweden. The technology developed by Professor Allinson and his team was recently celebrated by the Institute of Engineering and Technology as one of 100 innovations to change our world.

Meet the Expert

Professor Nigel Allinson MBE,
School of Computer Science

Meet the expert_Nigel Allinson

Professor Nigel Allinson is a world-leading expert in imaging technology, image sensors and systems, computer vision, and pattern recognition. 

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