Stockholm, Sweden and Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Elekta (EKTA-B.ST) and Royal Philips (NYSE:PHG, AEX:PHIA) today announced the installation of a third high-field (1.5 Tesla) MR-guided linear accelerator (MR-linac) system at University Medical Center (UMC), Utrecht. The Elekta MR-linac is designed to capture high-quality images of tumors and surrounding tissue, allowing physicians to rapidly assess and respond by modifying the radiation treatment, a responsive intervention approach.
“UMC Utrecht has been a leading proponent of the power of MR-linac technology to transform radiotherapy, and we are excited to announce expanded capabilities through installation of a third system,” said Bas Raaymakers, PhD, Professor of experimental clinical physics in the Department of Radiotherapy at UMC Utrecht. “The ability to visualize radiation therapy during treatment and to adapt treatment in real time based on detailed MR images would allow us to treat cancer with unprecedented levels of precision and accuracy, while improving efficacy and reducing side effects. Just as surgeons require a clear view of the surgical field, and often require sophisticated imaging equipment, radiation oncologists need a 21st century approach to visualize and adapt the radiotherapy field to achieve optimum outcomes for patients.”
UMC Utrecht is the founding member of Elekta’s MR-linac consortium, established in 2012 by Elekta and technology partner Philips. The consortium partners are committed to demonstrating that combining high-field MR imaging with image guided radiotherapy will elevate the standard of care for the most prominent cancers that account for more than half of cancer mortality worldwide as well as less prevalent cancers that are currently not well controlled.
“We are extremely pleased with the rapid progress made to date in installing high-field MR-linac systems worldwide,” said Tomas Puusepp, President and CEO of Elekta. “UMC Utrecht is a leading global oncology center and has been instrumental in making this leading-edge technology platform a reality. We are grateful to all of our MR-linac consortium collaborators for their efforts to improve the current paradigm of image guided radiotherapy and commitment to addressing unmet clinical needs.”
“After the significant technology hurdles that the teams have successfully overcome in order to combine advanced high-field digital magnetic resonance imaging with a state-of-the-art linear accelerator, and then validate and test the system, we are now about to enter the next phase of our important journey,” said Rob Cascella, CEO Diagnosis and Treatment at Philips. “I am convinced that the combined technology and clinical expertise of Philips, Elekta, UMC Utrecht and the other consortium partners will enable us to demonstrate the tremendous potential of MR-guided radiation therapy in clinical oncology.”
In 2009 UMC Utrecht showed the first ‘proof of principle’ testing with an experimental MR-linac system. In 2014 the UMC Utrecht installed a high-field MR-linac and has since been conducting functional testing in a non-clinical capacity. The new system will be used for further non-clinical studies, but it may also be ultimately used for clinical treatments.
Elekta’s MR-linac integrates a state-of-the-art radiotherapy system and a high-field MRI scanner with sophisticated software that allows a physician to clearly see the patient’s anatomy in real time. The MR-linac is designed to improve targeting of tumor tissue while reducing exposure of normal tissue to radiation beams. It will allow physicians to precisely locate a tumor, as well as lock onto it during delivery, even when tumor tissue is moving during treatment or changes shape, location or size between treatment sessions.
Elekta’s MR-linac is a work in progress and not available for sale or distribution.