May 16, 2011 - Varian Medical Systems and Augmenix announced they reached an agreement under which Varian will make a $15 million minority equity investment in Augmenix. The company is developing hydrogel products to improve outcomes in radiation oncology. The agreement also provides Varian with the exclusive option to acquire the rest of Augmenix, provided certain agreed-upon milestones have been met.
Augmenix' lead product, the SpaceOAR System, is designed to be used in men scheduled to undergo radiotherapy for prostate cancer. The product is injected between the prostate and rectum under ultrasound guidance. Once injected, the liquid hydrogel solidifies within seconds to move the rectum away from the prostate, helping to reduce the amount of radiation that goes to the rectum during therapy. After treatment, the hydrogel dissolves and is absorbed by the body.
SpaceOAR System is commercially approved for sale by Augmenix in select European countries and Australia. In the United States, SpaceOAR is under clinical investigation and will require the submission of a premarket approval application (PMA) and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before being commercialized.
The objective with radiotherapy is to deliver as much dose as possible to a tumor while minimizing exposure of surrounding healthy tissues. During prostate radiotherapy, avoiding the rectum can be a special challenge because the rectal wall borders the prostate gland. While studies have shown that advanced forms of conformal radiotherapy such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) reduce the amount of dose received by the rectum, outcomes may be further improved with a better physical separation between the prostate and the rectum during treatment.
"By enabling urologists and radiation oncologists to shift anatomy into optimal positions prior to irradiation, the SpaceOAR System represents a therapeutic paradigm shift that could potentially lead to improved radiotherapy outcomes, including lower complication rates and higher tumor control rates," said John Adler, M.D., Varian's chief of new clinical applications. "Investing in Augmenix fits perfectly with our commitment to provide physicians with novel technologies that offer cancer patients both highly efficacious and cost-effective treatments."
For more information: www.varian.com