A very new and promising type of radiotherapy is the so-called FLASH radiotherapy. With this type of irradiation, the dose is applied in a very short time. For example, irradiation with a dose of 30 Gy and a conventional dose rate of 2 Gy/min takes about a quarter of an hour. In contrast, FLASH irradiation with a dose rate of 40 Gy/s takes less than a second. This reduction in irradiation time not only has the advantage that patient movements, such as in the thoracic region, are less problematic, but it has actually also been demonstrated that this spares healthy tissue. How exactly this effect occurs is still largely unknown and the subject of current research. How FLASH irradiation affects the tumor itself has also been barely investigated. However, it is suspected that the tumor is not spared. This would of course be of great advantage for radiotherapy, because if healthy tissue can be spared while maintaining the same tumor control, this would lead to fewer side effects for patients.

At our chair, the FLASH effect is being studied in particular for proton therapy. Thus, we combine the positive properties of protons in therapy planning with the tissue sparing of FLASH. Research on proton FLASH is technically very complex and requires a large accelerator facility with special conditions, which is why we are one of the few groups worldwide conducting research on it. Here at the chair, we study in particular the biological reactions after proton FLASH irradiation and the preconditions as well as the background for tissue protection.