The Pipeline

Breaking news: World’s only MRI-guided RT system treats first patients

Catherine Castillo, Technology Insights

The Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri has started to treat patients using the ViewRayTM system, the world’s first and only real-time MRI-guided radiation therapy system. 

Some of the first to be treated include lung cancer patients who are receiving stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), a form of radiation therapy used to treat small, well-defined tumors with a few high doses of radiation. 

A breakthrough for MRI-guided RT

The ViewRayTM system, which received US regulatory clearance in May of 2012, uses continuously acquired MRI images to improve the accuracy of radiation therapy while it is being delivered. 

This advantage is particularly key for treating tumors in areas of the body that experience a lot of movement during treatment, such as the lung, which moves with a patient’s respiration. By allowing physicians and physicists to see the tumors location during treatment and adjust accordingly to minimize exposure to healthy tissue, the ViewRayTM system gets closer to the “holy grail” of radiation therapy: real-time adaptive treatment.

Due to its high cost and lack of clinical evidence, interest in the ViewRayTM system has waned since its FDA clearance and remained restricted to the research setting in a handful of institutions throughout 2013.

Now that it is treating patients, we expect progressive institutions to keep a close watch on early clinical evidence coming out of the operating sites, which will in turn play a significant role in determining the level of interest from potential buyers.

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