The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden, recently began installation of the first high-field (1.5 Tesla), MR-linac system in the United Kingdom. Later this year the system will be operating in a non-clinical capacity.
Elekta’s MR-linac integrates an ultramodern radiotherapy system and a high-field MRI scanner with sophisticated software that allows a physician to capture diagnostic quality images of tumors and surrounding tissue during radiation delivery allowing physicians to rapidly assess and respond by modifying the radiation treatment, a responsive intervention approach. 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 treatment, even when tumor tissue is moving during treatment or changes shape, location or size between treatment sessions.
“We appreciate the efforts of our long-term clinical collaborators at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden for their continued commitment to improving cancer treatment delivery and outcomes for physicians and patients,” says Tomas Puusepp, President and CEO of Elekta. “MR-linac has the potential to transform the future of cancer care and we are grateful to all of our global consortium members and partners for their dedication to advancing leading-edge technologies that were previously thought to be impossible.”
As part of its role as a member of Elekta’s Global Research Consortium, the ICR and The Royal Marsden, will serve as Tumor Site Group lead for cervical, breast and prostate cancer. In this capacity, each institution will advance research to elevate the standard of care for these prominent cancers.
The ICR and The Royal Marsden are the fourth global site to install the MR-linac system, which is already under functional evaluation at The Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, University Medical Center Utrecht and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The installation has been made possible by a grant from the Medical Research Council.
“The MR-linac is likely to change the current standard of care in radiation therapy, by allowing us to constantly image a targeted tumour during treatment and adapt the treatment to a patient’s unique anatomical makeup in real time,” says Professor Uwe Oelfke, Head of the Joint Department of Physics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden. “Bringing this technology into a clinical setting will be a profound step forward in a new era of personalised radiotherapy, with significant potential to improve patient outcomes.”
By year end 2016, all seven leading cancer centers participating in the consortium will have installed the Elekta MR-linac. Consortium members are currently engaged in various stages of evaluation of the technology and are collaborating to establish new protocols for clinical research and develop methods for data collection and analysis.
“Radiation plays a central role in approximately 50 percent of patients who are ultimately cured of cancer, but still causes anxiety among patients who fear negative post-treatment side effects,” says Professor Kevin Harrington, Joint Head of the Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging at The Institute of Cancer Research, London and The Royal Marsden. “MR-linac has the potential to radically improve the precision of radiation delivery, eliminating the need for wide margins around a targeted tumor and significantly reducing exposure of healthy tissues that might have been adversely affected by older radiation technology. We expect MR-linac to increase physician confidence in treating the intended target, while also putting patients at ease.”
“In oncology, MR imaging combined with advanced informatics is emerging as a promising tool for disease localization and quantification, therapy planning, treatment guidance and therapy assessment,” says Rob Cascella, CEO Diagnosis & Therapy at Philips. “The combination of real-time MR imaging and adaptive radiation therapy is an ambitious project that is driven by the expected benefits for patients and care providers. Through the collaboration with Elekta and the consortium partners such as The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden, we are now entering the next phase in exploring the potential of MR-guided radiotherapy as a game changer in oncology.”