Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Elekta (NSE: EKTAb) and Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) announced today that The Netherlands Cancer Institute-Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital (NKI-AVL, Amsterdam, the Netherlands) has signed an agreement to join a research group to advance the development of ground-breaking image-guided treatment technology for cancer care. The technology merges radiation therapy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology in a single system. NKI-AVL is the third member of the research consortium, which will comprise leading radiation oncology centers and clinicians, and already includes the University Medical Center Utrecht and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Uniting state-of-the-art MRI with a cutting edge radiation therapy system – thus creating an MRI-guided radiation therapy system* – will provide physicians with exceptional images of a patient’s soft tissues and tumor during radiation therapy. This breakthrough innovation also aims to permit clinicians to adapt treatment delivery in real time for the most precise cancer treatments possible.
“MRI has steadily revolutionized healthcare since its introduction nearly three decades ago, giving clinicians unparalleled views of soft tissues and pathology,” said Tomas Puusepp, Elekta President and CEO. “Merging this diagnostic capability with the capacity to also treat disease in the same frame of reference could dramatically improve cancer management. The other consortium members at Elekta, Philips, University Medical Center Utrecht and MD Anderson are delighted that NKI-AVL – an internationally renowned medical center – has joined us in this important effort.”
“MRI-guided radiotherapy allows optimal imaging and will therefore improve the accuracy of our treatment delivery,” said prof. Marcel Verheij, Head of the Radiotherapy Division at NKI-AVL. “Building on our experience with Cone Beam CT-guidance we are highly motivated to collaborate within the research consortium and contribute to the implementation of MRI-guided adaptive radiotherapy.”
“This research exemplifies the essential role that imaging plays in the development of more targeted treatments for cancer,” said Gene Saragnese CEO Imaging Systems at Philips Healthcare. ”The Netherlands Cancer Institute-Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital has played a crucial role in the software development for CT-guided radiation therapy a decade ago, and this expertise complements the skills that we already possess in this research consortium.”
Prior to the establishment of the research consortium, Elekta, Philips and the University Medical Center Utrecht built and tested a prototype system that integrates a linear accelerator and a 1.5 Tesla MRI system. The success of these efforts enabled the project to move to the next phase of development and testing by the growing select group of consortium partners.
Radiation therapy and medical imaging already play an essential role in treatment planning, delivery and after care, and are proven, cost-effective and safe methods for the treatment of individuals with cancer. Radiotherapy is a critical modality for cancer treatment, either as a frontline treatment or used with other modalities, such as chemotherapy. The procedure involves identifying cancerous tissue and irradiating it with high-energy radiation beams in a way that maximizes sparing of healthy tissues near the tumor.
*The integrated MRI-guided radiation therapy system is in development and not available for sale.