A prototype was already made. (Credit: Philips, Elekta)
Philips and Elekta announced this week that they were working on an MRI-guided radiation therapy unit they say could help make cancer treatments more accurate.
A prototype has already been built at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands that combines a 1.5-Tesla MRI scanner with a linear accelerator.
Now that the prototype has been developed, the two companies will create a limited number of pilot systems that can be used by a consortium of radiation oncologists and doctors that will help develop the technology. The consortium so far includes University Medical Center Utrecht, Philips said.
Elekta, best known for its Gamma Knife radiosurgery equipment, and the Dutch conglomerate recently signed a multi-year joint development agreement, a spokesman for Philips said in an e-mail.
Elekta president and CEO Tomas Puusepp said the technology has the potential to "revolutionize cancer care" by using MRI's soft-tissue imaging to make treatments more precise.
"The need to maximize therapeutic radiation on the target, while minimizing the exposure of healthy tissue is entirely driven by the best interests of the patient — they deserve the best chance for a cure and an improved quality of life," he said in a statement.
However, when this system comes to market, it won't be the first MRI-guided radiation therapy unit to be released. In May, Cleveland-based View Ray Inc. received Food and Drug Administration clearance for its MRI-guided Cobalt system.
Also, this isn't Philips' only MRI-guided cancer treatment endeavor. The company is also working on the MR-guided High Intensity Focused Ultrasound system, which uses MRI to guide focused blasts of ultrasound to heat up and destroy tumors. Philips announced earlier this month it was working with its MRI-guided radiation therapy collaborators University Medical Center Utrecht on a preliminary study to test MR-HIFU's effectiveness in treating women with small breast tumors.