May 16, 2013 — Elekta and Royal Philips Electronics announced that Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Toronto, Canada) will join their growing consortium to validate the clinical potential of MRI-guided radiation therapy.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the sixth largest cancer center in North America, is the fourth member to sign the research agreement to evaluate the new technology, which merges radiation therapy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a single system. Current clinical members of the group include the University Medical Center Utrecht, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and The Netherlands Cancer Institute-Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital.
Integrating an advanced 1.5 Tesla MRI machine with a sophisticated radiation therapy system will provide physicians with exceptional depictions of a patient's soft tissues and tumor and allow them to dynamically track their motion. This breakthrough innovation is designed to permit doctors to deliver radiation in real time under MR guidance for the most precise cancer treatments possible.
"Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre distinguishes itself in the world of science and medicine by its longstanding dedication of integrating research into clinical domain for the benefit of patients," says Tomas Puusepp, Elekta president and CEO. "With their international strength in the physical sciences — particularly in imaging technology — and its worldwide repute as a top flight cancer center, Sunnybrook is an ideal partner to help us advance this new technology."
According to Michael Julius, vice president, Research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Sunnybrook's participation in the research consortium will bring a team of physicists, engineers and clinicians to focus on validating the advantages of MRI-guided radiation therapy through technology development and clinical trials.
"We have identified a number of areas to study the value of this technology for patients," he says. "The ultimate goal — acquiring high resolution MRI images of pathology in real time as the radiation is being delivered — could have a dramatic impact on patient health and clinical outcomes."
Today, the safety margin of normal tissue around the tumor absorbs a large portion of the radiation beam, adds Jean-Philippe Pignol, professor of radiation oncology and a key leader on the Elekta partnership at Sunnybrook's Odette Cancer Centre. "The expectation is that MR-guided radiation therapy will enable us to treat more cancer tissue than normal tissue. In doing so, we could apply, in a single fraction, a huge dose to the tumor while avoiding side effects to normal tissues," he says.
"The development of advanced imaging solutions for oncology therapy planning and delivery is a key focus area for Philips," says Gene Saragnese, CEO Imaging Systems at Philips Healthcare. "Philips is already closely working together with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in this field, and we welcome their expertise to the research consortium for MR guided radiotherapy. The members will jointly work on the design and implementation of the clinical studies with the objective of bringing image-guided oncology therapy to the next level, and ultimately creating the future of healthcare."
The integrated MRI-guided radiation therapy system is in development and not available for sale.