VHEE cancer therapy

Very High Energy Electrons (VHEE) have the potential to be an alternative or complementary radiation therapy to x-ray and ions for cancer treatment.


Despite numerous studies showing promising results, the technological limitations of conventional accelerator technology have previously discouraged further investigation of using VHEE in radiotherapy. The electron energy required for VHEE therapy is greater than 100 MeV, which requires conventional accelerators that are tens of meters long. The electron energy required for VHEE therapy could only be produced by very large and very expensive devices.


The laser-plasma accelerator is a very recent ultra-compact technology that is now attracting the attention of the scientific community. By focussing high intensity laser beams into plasma, scientists have demonstrated laser-plasma accelerators with accelerating gradients in excess of 1 GeV/cm, which is one thousand times larger than possible in conventional accelerators. Hundreds of MeV electrons can be produced in a few millimetres. The laser-plasma accelerator dramatically reduces the size and costs of accelerator technology.

A multi-disciplinary collaboration within Strathclyde is looking at the therapeutic potential of VHEE produced by a laser-plasma Wakefield accelerator (LPWA). The group has been looking at the biological effect of LPWA-VHEE on cancer cells and has had promising results. Further work will be done to look into the effect of LPWA-VHEE on the cells to progress into in vivo models.

Key benefits

  • potential low toxicity treatment
  • more compact and less expensive than conventional low toxicity treatment´╗┐s (ions)
  • potential widespread technology: higher number of patients treated with lower healthcare costs and improvements in the quality of life for cancer patients

Markets & applications

Medical applications and cancer treatment.

Licensing & development

We're seeking a commercial partner to accelerate the development of this technology. For further information, please contact the RKES team.