Today, often the only thing standing between radiologists and saving a patient’s life is money. This is particularly the case with proton therapy, a well-regarded and tested, yet expensive form of cancer treatment.

But that barrier has been removed with the formation of Proton Therapy Global Management (PTGM). The company will design, develop, and manage a global network of proton therapy centers. Among the first sites it will develop is in London, UK.

According to PTGM President and CEO Ron Anderson, in an interview with Tech Edge, much of the cost associated with proton therapy is in the construction of a dedicated facility. “Proton therapy needs a lot of shielding,” he said. “When you’re treating patients, you get a lot of neutron scatter—it’s not a level that’s dangerous to patients, but it could become so for technologists in the long term—so you need to build shielded rooms for them. That results in walls that are six- to eight-feet thick.” This means that about 25,000 square feet is required to build a typical two-room facility.

Up until recently, the cost of such rooms was staggering—upwards of $200 million—but thanks to some “rethinking” on how to build them, according to Anderson, the price is now about $50 million for a two-room facility. The drop in price also makes proton therapy viable in less densely populated areas. Anderson said that a one-room treatment facility could be supported by a population center of just one-half-million people.

In less perilous economic times, this would be seen as good news, but, as Anderson told Tech Edge, with all the pressures administrators are already feeling, committing to a large-scale capital project could be a hard sell. That’s where PTGM comes in to the picture. The company will partner with enterprises by helping to finance the construction of the facility and managing it after it comes on line. The health enterprise would be responsible for handling medical treatment and standards.

Proton therapy is a precise form of radiation treatment that destroys tumors, and, unlike traditional x-ray therapy, leaves healthy tissue mostly intact. It has been used to treat patients for the last 50 years—particularly in university and research settings—but has yet to have a widespread use with only 28 centers in the entire world. But Anderson, who helped set up the first U.S. proton therapy facility at California’s Loma Linda University Medical Center, sees that the therapy’s time has come, pointing to its use by the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, as the “tipping point” for piquing interest in the therapy’s wider use. “What we’re seeing is that proton therapy is moving to the forefront,” he said.