Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah International Research Center Signs With Varian Medical Systems
The Saudi Arabian National Guard Health Affairs ("NGHA") here today announced it has signed an agreement with Varian Medical Systems and IMRIS, Inc., to develop and build a facility for magnetic resonance-guided radiation therapy (MRgRT™).
Under the agreement, Varian and IMRIS will supply a cancer treatment solution that combines IMRIS' unique movable magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology with Varian's latest linear accelerator technology, the TrueBeam™ system. MRI provides high quality soft tissue imaging that can be used to eradicate tumors using radiotherapy or radiosurgery.
"While this technology is still in the early developmental phase, we see great potential to advance the ability of clinicians to target tumors within soft tissue more precisely," said Dow Wilson, president of Varian's Oncology Systems business.
The solution will be designed to permit a high-field MRI scanner to move in and out of the radiation therapy room on demand, providing MR imaging to confirm a tumor's location without having to move the patient from the treatment couch or transport the patient to and from another room, as would be required today. Due to the mobile nature of the MRI system, the radiation therapy systems are expected to be offered in multi-room configurations and include independent MR-simulation capabilities for the MR system to further enhance financial utility for hospitals.
Bandar Al Knawy, MD, FRCPC. CEO OF NGHA said, "The primary goal at National Guard Health Affairs is to become the nationwide leader of healthcare facilities in the region, as well as a globally recognized healthcare system with outstanding clinical services, high quality education/training and cutting-edge research. With our valuable partners, this project will demonstrate that clearly."
"We believe that MRI can provide improved soft tissue discrimination leading to greater physician confidence and more accurate treatments with both external beam and brachytherapy applications," noted Dr. Suliman Al-Ghamdi of NGHA. "This technology represents a revolution in radiation therapy and we are proud to participate as a leader in this new field."
As part of the agreement, NGHA will participate in aspects of the development of this revolutionary technology and will consult with Varian and IMRIS on the clinical implementation of the new technology.
"There are many challenges to be addressed and the MR-Linac solution is a great opportunity for innovation in the field," commented Dr. Abdelhamid Saoudi, Chief Medical Physicist at NGHA Jeddah. "We look forward to contributing to the overall solution in the developmental phase and maximizing the clinical utility in a busy radiation therapy practice."
The joint development of the MRgRT system between Varian and IMRIS was announced earlier this Fall. Following the successful completion of the development stage of this project, and subject to necessary regulatory approvals, the companies anticipate co-branding the new MR-guided radiation therapy suite and leveraging Varian's global presence and leadership position in the fields of radiotherapy and radiosurgery to market the new product.
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