PALO ALTO, Calif., Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) gathered over 100 radiation oncology researchers for a Research Partnership Summit earlier this month. The two-and-a-half-day gathering brought together physicists, biologists, veterinarians, and physicians who are conducting Varian-funded research.
"These researchers are on the cutting edge of oncology treatments, figuring out how to harness the power of new technologies," says Michael Sweitzer, manager of research collaborations at Varian. "They are introducing, testing, and validating new product concepts and new protocols that are likely to become standards of care in the years to come. By bringing them together in one forum, Varian was able to leverage its existing research relationships to create an environment conducive to vigorous debate and the development of new ideas."
"These presentations incorporate data that is only days or weeks old. It's an amazing snapshot of where the technology is at this point in time, for people who are really pushing the envelope," commented Frank Bova, PhD, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Florida, who moderated a session on stereotactic radiosurgery, a procedure that involves treating a malignancy or neurological malformation with a carefully targeted single dose of radiation.
Cone-Beam CT a Hot Topic
Michael Lovelock, PhD, medical physicist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, presented his work using three-dimensional cone- beam CT images -- generated using Varian's On-Board Imager™ device -- to guide how patients are positioned for treatment when radiation is delivered to very small targets within the body. Clinicians from Duke University, the University of Chicago, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, each presented strategies for using cone-beam CT to improve the precision of radiotherapy treatments for various types of cancer.
Motion Management and Stereotactic Radiosurgery
Other presentations covered product strategies for dealing with tumor motion during treatment, including the use of respiratory gating and other "four-dimensional" imaging procedures and software that track and compensate for tumor motion caused by breathing.
For example, Paul Keall, PhD, associate professor of medical physics at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), offered a look at technology in development that can locate and track a tumor and adjust the treatment beam in direct response to internal or skeletal motion. Such a "dynamic compensation" approach would enable treatments that respond to tumor motion in real time by shaping and reshaping the radiation beams -- something that is not yet possible in a commercially-available radiotherapy system.
Radiobiology and Biosynergy
Researchers also presented on projects involving biosynergy, or ways in which biologically active agents can be used to enhance the clinical effects of radiation. Researchers from Colorado State University, Duke University, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Indiana University, Montefiore Medical Center, Washington University, the University of Florida, and the University of Wisconsin presented data on substances that make tumor cells more responsive to radiation, substances that protect normal tissues from the effects of radiation, and biomarkers that can be used to generate functional images with detailed information about tumor metabolism.
Setting the R&D Agenda
"The research summit served an essential purpose for us," said Dow Wilson, president of Varian's Oncology Systems business. "The synergy created by bringing our world-class researchers together in one forum engendered bold new ideas that will help us to focus our research and development path over the next few years. Varian is committed to its R&D program and to developing new technologies that enhance the quality of patient care in the fight against cancer."
ABOUT VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS
Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California is the world's leading manufacturer of integrated cancer therapy systems, which are treating thousands of patients per day. The company is also a premier supplier of X- ray tubes and flat-panel digital subsystems for imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications. Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 3,500 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America and Europe and in its 56 sales and support offices around the world. Additional information is available on the company's web site at http://www.varian.com/ .
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT: Meryl Ginsberg, 650-424-6444 email@example.com
SOURCE: Varian Medical Systems, Inc.
CONTACT: Meryl Ginsberg of Varian Medical Systems, Inc.,
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Web site: http://www.varian.com/