TOP graduates are working on groundbreaking technology to treat cancer at Daresbury Science and Innovation Park.

Glenda Wall is EU project manager at the science park’s Cockcroft Institute on Keckwick Lane.

It is there that ways to treat cancer are being tackled, specifically how to perfect a beam that targets cancerous cells during chemotherapy.

Mrs Wall explained the approach and said: “Particles that fight cancer are in a beam.

“They are directed at the tumour.

“Depending on how good the beam is means the treatment will be better if no particles split off from the beam.

“If they do, that can damage healthy cells.

“There is still no sure diagnostic method to make a beam stable.

“It’s really important because you don’t want to be damaging healthy cells when you’re radiating for cancer.”

There are currently 18 students working on beam technology at the Cockcroft Institute for various treatments.

The programme is a Marie Curie initial training network, involving universities, science centres, and industry partners where work experience placements are offered.

Participants can also attain Phds, with five of the 18 having so far done so.

The network applies for funding from the European Commission, with £4.9m awarded for the Optimizing the Performance of Particle Accelerators project.

It is under this heading that cancer treatments are being developed, along with other beam technologies such as a CT scanner used to treat eye tumours.

“To be a Marie Curie fellow is quite prestigious,” said Mrs Wall.

“All of the people involved are academic high flyers.

“Some will blow you away because they are so young.

“The point is to train these young researchers in diagnostics.

“There is still no way to make a beam stable so they are all working on different areas of that.”

“The importance is that there is a whole group of researchers that will be out there working on groundbreaking research.

“It’s going to benefit everybody in the long term.”