Institut Curie and Thales join forces to create a world-leading French industrial ecosystem in very high-energy electronic FLASH radiotherapy

Radiotherapy: the FLASH revolution

Discovered in 2014 in the laboratories of the Institut Curie by the team led by Dr. Vincent Favaudon, the FLASH effect promises to be a real paradigm shift in radiotherapy. Since the medical benefits of radiotherapy have been demonstrated, therapeutic programs have had to be carried out in several sessions to limit the side effects of radiation. Using very intense rays delivered in less than a second, the ultra-high dose rate FLASH technique destroys tumor cells without harming healthy tissue. If the next steps in research validate future clinical applications, FLASH radiation therapy could prove to be a revolution in cancer treatment.

With innovative approaches that reduce the sensitivity of healthy tissue to radiation, the dose delivered to highly resistant tumors could be increased, far fewer treatment sessions would be required, and there would be additional possibilities to treat cancers currently untreatable with radiation therapy. ,” said Pr Gilles Créhange, head of the oncology radiotherapy department at Institut Curie.

FLASH radiotherapy using low-energy electron accelerators has already demonstrated its effectiveness in patients undergoing treatment for skin cancers. Work is also underway on potential applications in intraoperative radiotherapy.

By combining the FLASH effect with a source of very high energy electrons, external radiation therapy treatments penetrating deep into human tissues could target deep tumors and avoid major surgical procedures.

A sovereign French and European VHEE FLASH ecosystem and world leader

Identified as a national priority in the State strategy contract for health industries and technologies, the objective is to create a sovereign and world-leading French and European VHEE FLASH ecosystem. to treat more cancers and avoid the negative sequelae of radiotherapy.

Cradle of radiotherapy more than 100 years ago, the Institut Curie has always been at the forefront of innovation in this field and today operates one of the most advanced technical platforms in Europe on its site in ‘Orsay on the campus of Paris-Saclay University.

The new industrial ecosystem will serve as an anchor point for other partners and will contribute to safeguarding France‘s sovereignty in the field of cancer treatment, considered a major public health issue for the next 30 years.

This large-scale project will be spread over several years and will take place in two phases:

  • Definition and standardization of the VHEE FLASH technique by 2026
  • Installation of VHEE FLASH equipment in hospitals by 2028

This partnership with the Institut Curie will accelerate the research and development of this revolutionary technology. A joint doctoral thesis on the study of very high energy electron radiotherapy (VHEE) is already in progress as a basis for the development of future medical equipment. With its unique experience in complex particle accelerators, Thales has all the industrial resources and know-how necessary for this innovative project,” said Charles-Antoine Goffin, Vice President, Microwaves and Imaging Subsystems, Thales.

The world’s first facility for human clinical trials

As part of this partnership, Institut Curie will work with Thales and other stakeholders to create a new facility to define this new treatment technique, identify priority indications and deploy a comprehensive medical research program. The installation will be located on the Institut Curie site in Orsay, in the south-west suburbs of Paris, which is the only site in France with a clinical setting suitable for this type of equipment. The VHEE FLASH platform will demonstrate the benefits of the technique in humans, a crucial step towards the introduction of the new medical technique in hospitals. This project is the first of its kind in the world and will strengthen European leadership in this technology developed in France. The ambitious and pioneering collaboration between Institut Curie and Thales is a first step in ensuring that the latest technological and medical innovations are fully exploited in the fight against cancer.

The expected increase in the number of cancer cases in the decades to come forces the search for more effective and less costly solutions for the health system than those used or in development today. VHEE FLASH radiotherapy has the potential to meet this demanding requirement.” said Pr Steven Le Gouill, director of the hospital group at Institut Curie.

Institut Curie’s research and the rapidity of its appropriation by the scientific community show the interest of this innovative approach. The challenge will be to gather the necessary funding for the transition to an industrial scale to prevent this French innovation from developing elsewhere.” said Pr Alain Puisieux, Director of the Institut Curie Research Center.

Institut Curie and Thales are working with the public authorities to align the financing of this platform with the ambitious objectives of the France 2030 investment plan for breakthrough medical technologies.

About Institut Curie

The Institut Curie, the leading cancer center in France, combines an internationally renowned research center with a state-of-the-art hospital group, which treats all types of cancer, including the rarest. Founded in 1909 by Marie Curie, the Institut Curie employs 3,700 researchers, doctors and health professionals spread over three sites (Paris, Saint-Cloud and Orsay), who all contribute to its three missions of care, research and education. A private foundation recognized as being of public utility, the Institut Curie is authorized to receive donations and bequests and, thanks to the support of its donors, can accelerate discoveries and improve patient care and quality of life.

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Since 2011, the Institut Curie has been labeled “Institut Carnot Curie Cancer”. The Carnot label is a label of excellence awarded to academic research structures that have demonstrated quality and involvement in collaborative research. Curie Cancer offers industrial partners the opportunity to set up research collaborations and benefit from the expertise of Institut Curie teams for the development of innovative therapeutic solutions against cancer, from biological target to clinical validation. . Curie Cancer is a member of the FINDMED Carnot network, a group of 13 Carnot institutes, in order to facilitate access to their technological platforms and innovation capacities for VSEs, SMEs and SMIs in the pharmaceutical industry.


© Institut Curie / INCa / DUNOUAU Franck


Curie Institute / Elsa Champion – [email protected] – +33 (0)7 64 43 09 28

Thales / Marion Bonnet – [email protected] – +33 (0)6 60 38 48 92