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CSU Partners with Japan for Cancer Treatment

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Eleven-year-old Ingrid is a Bernese Mountain Dog who recently underwent radiation treatment at Colorado State University’s Veterinarian Hospital to shrink a tumor in her nasal cavity.

“She means the world to me. She is my kid. She is an only dog, only child,” said pet owner Berit Campion.

The woman from Salt Lake City traveled to Fort Collins to have her dog treated because Colorado State’s Veterinarian Hospital is considered one of the best vet hospitals in America. "It`s a world class operation and I wanted the best treatment for her,” said Campion.

New technology in US

Now Colorado State University’s Veterinarian School hopes to be the first institution in the United States to offer Carbon Ion Radiation therapy for cancer treatment in dogs.

The technology has been used in Japan for 20 years and now a Japanese company plans to partner with CSU to bring Carbon Ion therapy to the United States.

The agreement follows a recent trade mission to Japan led by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

“The real focus was try to build relationships and bridges between this business community in Colorado and the business community in Japan,” said Hickenlooper, who visited a Carbon Ion lab in Japan.

Traditional radiation therapy, the kind used to treat Ingrid the dog, uses tiny photons. Carbon Ions are elements much larger than a photon or even a proton.

Their bigger size allows them to blast tumors in such a way cancer cells are unlikely to regrow. In addition, Carbon Ion does less damage to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.

“The more normal tissues you can spare, the higher dose you can deliver, the more tumors you are going to be able to cure,” said Susan LaRue, a professor with the Health Sciences department at CSU.

LaRue said the leading cause of death for older dogs is cancer.

She admitted Carbon Ion therapy won’t arrive soon enough to change Ingrid’s outcome but today’s puppies could definitely benefit by the construction of a Carbon Ion lab to be built at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

A big magnet

'It`s a big magnet, physically a magnet and it`s also going to be a giant magnet for all the scientists and clinical people worldwide to come to Colorado to work on this beam,” said Dr. Jac Nickoloff, the head of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences at CSU.

The University of Colorado is also a partner in the research, and plans to use the Carbon Ion lab to treat humans when the Aurora facility opens in 2020.

There are only eight cancer centers in the world using Carbon Ions and none are in the United States.

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