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MR Linac Research Consortium to Develop MRI-Guided Radiotherapy for Cancer Treatment

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 16 Jun 2014
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High-powered institutions to join consortium to advance MRI-guided radiptherapy. Elekta (Stockholm, Sweden) and Philips Healthcare (Best, The Netherlands) reported that The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, UK), a world-leading cancer research institution, working with its clinical partner the Royal Marsden NHS [National Health Service] Foundation Trust, will join the Elekta MR Linac Research Consortium, a group with an objective to develop an integrated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided radiation therapy system. Combining a sophisticated digital linac with an MRI system would greatly enhance real-time visualization of cancer targets during the delivery of therapeutic radiation.

“The addition of The Institute of Cancer Research [ICR] to the consortium further strengthens this growing partnership of clinical centers,” said Niklas Savander, Elekta president and CEO. “The ICR is a prominent cancer research institute and has contributed significantly in this arena for over a century. Its unique partnership with The Royal Marsden and ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach allows the ICR to deliver exceptional results. All of these factors make the ICR and The Royal Marsden a perfect fit as we advance MRI-guided radiotherapy.”

“The development of MRI-guided radiation therapy establishes a new vision for clinical radiation oncology for the treatment of cancer,” said Prof. Uwe Oelfke, MCCPM, FInstP, and head of the joint department of physics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. “The translation of this novel technical approach into clinical practice faces a number of challenges ideally addressed by a group of world leading radiotherapy centers, each contributing with its specific expertise. Being a member of the consortium is a prerequisite to shape this exciting future of radiation therapy. Our current Cancer Research UK-funded research program on adaptive and image-guided therapy, together with the activities on MRI within our Cancer Research UK imaging center, are an excellent research environment to make leading contributions to the joint efforts of the consortium. The ICR's initial research focus for MRI-guided radiation therapy will be on pelvic malignancies, where the excellent soft tissue contrast of MR images directly before or during treatment will substantially enhance treatment options and quality.”

The ICR is the sixth member to join the research consortium that assesses the novel technology, which brings together state-of-the-art radiation therapy and MRI in a single system. The consortium also includes the University Medical Center Utrecht (Utrecht, the Netherlands), The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX, USA), The Netherlands Cancer Institute-Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and The Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center (Milwaukee, WI, USA).

“MRI-guided radiation therapy has the promise to become a highly targeted treatment for cancer,” said Gene Saragnese, CEO imaging systems at Philips Healthcare. “The realization of this promise requires the collaboration between leaders in interventional imaging and radiation therapy delivery, as well as clinical innovators in oncology. We are convinced that the deep clinical knowledge and expertise of the Institute of Cancer Research will be a strong asset to the growing research consortium.”

The research consortium, since its launch in 2012, has taken several steps toward its goal. On April 5, 2014, the University Medical Center Utrecht began installing the first generation MRI-guided radiation therapy system for nonclinical testing, which includes the performance evaluation of MRI pulse sequences, evaluation of different adaptive delivery approaches, establishing quality assurance techniques and defining workflow. Several of the sites are now undertaking treatment planning evaluation using the Monte Carlo based MRI-corrected algorithms in a research version of Elekta’s Monaco treatment planning system. Furthermore, a number of the consortium centers have active research programs linked to the MRI-guided radiation therapy system and have submitted abstracts to the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) annual meeting (July 20–24, 2014, Austin, TX, USA), where some specific sessions will be covering the latest advances in MRI-guided radiotherapy.

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Philips Healthcare 
Institute of Cancer Research, London

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