Remember MR-linac, the MRI-guided radiotherapy machine born as a result of collaboration between Philips and Elekta? (If not, here’s the overview of when I saw it last October during my trip to see what the Netherlands has to offer the medtech industry.) Back then, I could only offer the image of the empty room slated to house it in the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU).
As of this week, the third MR-linac machine is being installed, this time in the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI). The second was installed last year in the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. It’s also currently undergoing functional evaluation at UMCU.
MR-linac presents a promising new approach to cancer treatment using MRI-targeted radiotherapy. The 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner is able to let physicians see patient anatomy in real-time. Whether the tumor moves during treatment or changes shape, location, or size between sessions, MR-linac target the tumor and minimizes healthy tissue’s exposure to radiation.
“The ability to actually see that we are delivering the correct radiation dose to the intended target has the potential to reduce side effects and improve quality of life, allow for escalated dose delivery and ultimately increase our ability to control tumors,” said Professor Uulke van der Heide, PhD, medical physicist and group leader for the Department of Radiation Oncology of The Netherlands Cancer Institute.
The Elekta MR-linac consortium, founded by Elekta and Philips in 2012, consists of seven leading cancer centers. All members are presently evaluating the technology and the consortium plans to install MR-linac machines in all seven cancer centers by the end of 2016.
“MR imaging is emerging as a promising oncology tool for disease localization and quantification, therapy planning, treatment guidance, and therapy assessment,” commented Rob Cascella, Philips’ CEO of Imaging Businesses. “Through the collaboration with Elekta and the consortium partners such as The NKI, I am convinced that we have the prerequisites to make MR-guided radiotherapy a meaningful success for both patients and care providers.”