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Cancer Center to Test Focused Radiation Therapy

Breast cancer clinic

(M.D. Anderson Cancer Center)

12 June 2017. MD Anderson Cancer Center is testing new radiation treatments for cancer designed to reduce adverse side effects of conventional radiation therapy. The collaboration with Convergent Radiotherapy and Radio Surgery, or CRnR Ltd., in Tirat Carmel, Israel, may eventually provide MD Anderson in Houston with milestone payments and royalties, but further financial details were not disclosed.

A team from MD Anderson, part of the University of Texas system, led by radiation physicist Mohammad Salehpour, is studying the feasibility of the Mercy Beam system developed by CRnR. The system, says the company, uses a combination of lower-energy X-ray beams that penetrate the body at a specified angle enabling the beams to converge at a designated point allowing the radiation dose to build up only in the targeted tumor area, and not in surrounding healthy tissue.

The key to the technology, says CRnR, is a converging lens reversing the usually diverging X-ray beams that decrease in intensity as distance increases from the radiation source. The lens is made of crystals in circular concentric rings that capture the diverging X-ray beams and focus the beams at a specific point, with increasing intensity as they converge. The company adds that the technology is an offshoot of techniques developed for NASA to detect radiation in space.

Conventional cancer radiation therapy employs a linear accelerator sending higher-energy X-ray beams that conform to the shape of the tumor. Doses need to be carefully monitored to make sure the patient does not receive more than safe levels of radiation. CRnR says linear accelerators require special expensive housing to prevent radiation from leaking out that Mercy Beams do not, thus making its technology potentially less costly and a better option for smaller hospitals and clinics.

At MD Anderson, Salehpour and colleagues will first evaluate Mercy Beam technology with smaller tumors, particularly in sensitive head and neck regions as well as with children, then progress to larger tumors. CRnR will provide a research chamber for the MD Anderson team to study Mercy Beams in simulations and preclinical tests. The MD Anderson researchers will also develop treatment protocols and procedures for the technology in clinical practice.

If the technology reaches beyond preclinical stages, MD Anderson will be eligible for  payments based on CRnR’s market capitalization, progress in achieving FDA approval, and royalties on sales for cancer treatments.

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