Proton Partners International (PPI) is a company formed by UK based and international cancer and healthcare specialists. The company is building three proton beam therapy cancer treatment centres across the UK. The construction of two centres in Newport, Wales and Bomarsund, Northumberland is currently underway, while a third centre in west London is in the development phase. At each of these centres, PPI aims to be able to treat 500 patients annually.
Mike Moran, CEO of Proton Partners International Ltd, has over 30 years of experience in strategic planning and leadership in the defence and healthcare sectors, both in the UK and abroad. Here he talks to Finance Monthly about the company’s new centres and the potential and benefits of beam therapy.
What were some of Proton Partners’ major achievements in 2015?
2015 was a breakthrough year for Proton Partners. The team we have put together is made up of some of the top cancer and life sciences professionals in the country, including prominent life science investors Professor Sir Chris Evans and Neil Woodford of Woodford Investment Management, in addition to eminent oncologists Professor Karol Sikora and Professor Gordon McVie.
Proton Partners are at the forefront of bringing proton beam therapy to the UK and are working with classleading providers which will equip the new centres to the highest specifications.
From a financial perspective, we were delighted to receive almost £100 million backing from the Welsh Government and UK investors, including Woodford Investment Management.
What are the benefits of proton beam therapy versus more traditional forms of treatment for cancer?
Proton beam therapy is a type of radiotherapy that is used in cancer treatment. Conventional radiotherapy uses radiation to destroy cancerous cells, however,
this can often cause damage to surrounding tissue, leading to symptoms such as nausea and can affect the patient’s organs. Instead, proton beam therapy uses heavily charged protons in a more targeted manner. In addition, the beam of protons used in proton beam therapy stops once it reaches the cancerous cells, meaning that the radiation does not carry on through the body. As a result, the likelihood of causing tissue and organ damage is much reduced as the treatment is more targeted.
Due to its precision and accuracy, research has highlighted that proton beam therapy is particularly good for treating cancers in children and can effectively treat hard-to-reach cancers in the brain or near the spinal cord.
What potential for proton beam therapy do you see in the rest of the UK and beyond into Europe? Is this a major market for you?
As it stands there are currently no operational highenergy proton beam therapy facilities in the UK, but there is a growing need for more specialised cancer care. Proton Partners believes that cancer patients deserve the best possible care without needing to leave the country or spend huge amounts of money and therefore we want to make sure that proton beam therapy is a treatment that is available on a suitable scale within the UK.
Globally, there are currently 44 operational proton beam therapy facilities, which between them have treated over 95,000 people. Dutch, French, Italian and Swedish studies show that between 10% and 20% of patients receiving radiotherapy would in fact be better off with proton beam therapy. This level of demand would result in a requirement for 18 centres in the UK, far more than the two currently planned by the NHS.
Looking into 2016, what do you anticipate for the company?
I am looking forward to seeing our three centres develop and take shape. Moreover, we are committed to providing proton beam therapy that will transform cancer patient care and play a key role in improving the provision of cancer treatment in the UK.
2016 will present the opportunity to inform the medical community and the public at large about the benefits that proton beam therapy can provide.
We look forward to building upon the UK’s reputation for clinical excellence, and through our existing academic affiliations, our proton beam therapy centres will be at the forefront of proton beam therapy research, using patient experience to inform oncologists and drive improvements in technology.
We intend to grow the business organically, building new centres and through acquisition, buying existing oncology centres and bolting on proton beam therapy. We have plans to build 7 UK centres and up to 5 international centres making us the world’s largest operator of proton beam therapy centres.