Protons contra cancer (PROCCA)

The convergence environment wants to create an excellent platform for collaborative efforts in proton therapy in Oslo and among other issues study how biological short term and long term side effects of radiation therapy can be reduced. 

Project leader: Eirik Malinen, Department of Physics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, UiO

Principal investigators:


Radiation therapy is a well-established treatment for many cancer types. However, the radiation dose that can be delivered to the tumor is limited by the surrounding healthy tissues.

Norway will get its first proton therapy cancer center in Oslo in 2023. Proton therapy is more precise in delivering the dose to the patient and is therefore expected to significantly reduce side effects compared to state-of-the-art X-ray therapy. Also, protons deposit their dose in tissue differently from X-rays, and some studies indicate that protons may induce less toxicity per dose. This is surprising and important, because it implies that proton therapy may be used to deliver higher doses to the tumor, giving higher probability of cure as well as less side effects after treatment.

Today, proton therapy is based on the practice developed over decades for conventional X-ray treatment. Thus, the potential benefits of protons are not fully exploited at international centers doing proton therapy today.

In PROCCA, we will investigate different response mechanisms for protons versus X-rays and how they induce differential biological responses resulting in healthy tissue damage.

Moreover, we will investigate how this in turn affects quality of life for cancer survivors, both on terms of physical and psychological health. The aim is to cure more patients, and at the same time ensure high quality of life after treatment.

Primary objectives

The overall objective of this convergence environment is to create a synergetic platform for cross-disciplinary collaborative efforts within proton therapy, addressing key life science challenges and bringing proton therapy research in Oslo to the international forefront.

Secondary objectives

  1. To study different biological pathways following proton- and X-irradiation, their potential role in short- and long-term side effects, and their association with physical energy deposition patterns
  2. To follow up patients currently receiving X-ray and proton therapy with physiological and psychological evaluations of long-term side effects
  3. To link the biological pathways identified from pre-clinical studies to long-term side effects in patients
  4. To develop and test new proton irradiation techniques, combination therapies and toxicity mitigators


University of Oslo

  • Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
    • Department of Physics:  Eirik Malinen, Nina Edin, Sunniva Siem, Taran Paulsen Hellebust.
    • Department of Biosciences: Bernd Thiede.
  • Faculty of Dentistry, Institute of oral biology: Hilde Kanli Galtung, Tine Søland.
  • Faculty of Medicine, Institute of clinical medicine: Åslaug Helland.
  • Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology: Silje Endresen Reme, Espen Røysamb

Oslo University Hospital 

Cecilie Amdal (Department of Oncology), Cecilie Kiserud (National Advisory Unit on Late Effects after Cancer Treatment), Einar Dale (Department of Oncology), Alexandre Corthay (Tumor Immunology Lab, Department of Pathology), Randi Syljuåsen (Institute of Cancer Research, Department of Radiation Biology), Heidi Lyng (Institute of Cancer Research, Department of Radiation Biology).

Published Mar. 26, 2019 10:37 AM - Last modified Mar. 26, 2019 3:09 PM