Proton Center Construction Resumes

Construction on the Emory Proton Therapy Center (EPTC) is moving forward after a financing delay, according to Georgia Proton Treatment Center, LLC, President Ashley Preisinger.

Located in midtown Atlanta, the Center broke ground May 2013. It will treat cancer patients using proton therapy, a “cutting-edge” radiation treatment that targets cancer cells but minimizes the amount of radiation and damage surrounding healthy cells sustain, Preisinger said.

EPTC construction stalled after investors removed biotechnology company Advanced Particle Therapy (APT) from the project when creditors filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against APT in 2015, Provident Resources Group CEO and Chairman Steve Hicks said. He added that nonprofit Provident Resource Group agreed early 2016 to provide the necessary funding to complete the project.

Provident Resource Group will own the Center upon its completion. Invest Atlanta, Atlanta’s development authority, is in talks to provide up to $400 million of tax-exempt bonds for the project, Invest Atlanta Vice President and spokesperson Matt Fogt said.

Currently, the EPTC is 85 percent complete, Preisinger said. It is projected to begin treating patients in the second half of 2018, approximately 18 months after its equipment arrives later this year. Once completed, it will be the only proton therapy center in Georgia.

Staff from Emory Healthcare and the Winship Cancer Institute will handle the EPTC’s clinical responsibilities, which, at full capacity, will treat upwards of 1,200 patients per year. Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at Emory School of Medicine Mark McDonald, slated to be medical director of EPTC, predicted that the Center will treat a diverse array of patients, including those with pediatric cancers, brain tumors and bone tumors. The Center will increase Winship’s capabilities in both research and education, McDonald said.

Fogt said Atlanta’s development authority seeks “economic development projects in the city that provide public good.”

The presence of the “advanced medical facility” will help Atlanta by providing additional treatment options for patients. Jobs for the medical practitioners, retail development and economic stimulation through the friends and family members who will be visiting the city to see patients will also contribute to the city’s economy, he said.

There are approximately 17 other proton therapy facilities in the U.S., with another six to seven in varying stages of development, Preisinger said.
“It’s a real benefit if you can not only help a person fight their cancer, but do it in a way so that their discomfort and other problems are minimized,” Preisinger said.

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