National Proton Biology Research Hub

The National Proton Biology Research Hub leverages the infrastructure at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust through the proton beam therapy centre to provide current in-vitro high-throughput proton and FLASH proton irradiation and build our capability in in vivo proton beam therapy.

At a Glance: The National Proton Biology Research Hub


The Proton Research Hub leverages facilities at the UK’s first NHS Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) Centre at The Christie and the only UK NHS facility with a dedicated Research Room located in the fourth clinical gantry space. A fully operational and commissioned pencil scanning beamline delivers high energy protons to various interchangeable ‘end-stations’ including the world’s largest hypoxia cabinet with integrated robot arm for high-throughput irradiation of in vitro samples.

Work undertaken using these facilities will address the hypothesis that protons elicit a different biological, immunological and DNA response compared to photons. Researchers are studying the biological mechanisms that underpin proton FLASH radiotherapy (very short ultra-high dose rate ionising radiation shown to spare normal healthy tissues), and working on new multi-disciplinary collaboration with colleagues at Geoffrey Jefferson Brain Research Centre. The design, procurement and implementation of a second in vivo beamline is now underway.

The design, procurement and development of a pre-clinical proton FLASH beamline is now also underway, aiming for the first experiments to be conducted by 2025.


Delivering radiotherapy in a FLASH

Dr Elham Santina and Christopher Smith discuss their research investigating the biological mechanisms behind FLASH radiotherapy, a method of delivering ultra-high doses of radiotherapy in a fraction of a second.

Dr Elham Santina in the OCRB

Research Questions: National Proton Biology Research Hub


By working with other researchers across Manchester, our researchers are seeking to answer key questions that will help improve our understanding of how to use this new technology to deliver new clinical trials and improve pre-clinical research. Examples of the research questions being addressed through this theme include:

  1. Define the parameter space and explain mechanisms under-pinning the FLASH effect in tumour and normal cell lines and tissue.
  2. Develop a state-of-the-art beamline for pre-clinical research at both conventional and FLASH dose rates.


PRECISE Proton Research Room - Virtual Tour

Find out more about the Proton Beam Therapy Centre's dedicated research facility, helping us to understand more about how protons work and how we can maximise the benefits to patients. (4 mins 53 secs)

Proton Beam Therapy Centre Building


About CRUK RadNet Manchester

Cancer Research UK RadNet Manchester is a Radiation Research Unit in collaboration with The Christie

RadNet Facilities and Infrastructure

CRUK RadNet Manchester benefits from the existing infrastructure and facilities within Manchester across the various strategic partners of the CRUK Manchester Centre.

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