GENOA, Italy and DRESDEN, Germany, Jan. 10, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — ASG Superconductors’ (ASG) MgB2 superconducting technology – already in use for energy and medical applications such as the world’s only truly open MROpenEVO magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system – is at the heart of the worldwide innovation presented today in Dresden in the field of proton therapy and cancer treatment using real-time MRI imaging.
OncoRay world’s first scientific prototype combining real time magnetic resonance imaging with proton therapy for tumours
In fact, MRI offers the advantage over conventional imaging modalities of being able to visualise tumours with unsurpassed soft tissue image contrast. This makes it possible to better delineate the tumour from the surrounding healthy tissue and to more precisely define the volume to be irradiated. In addition, MRI guidance is able to map changes in the shape and size of the volume to be irradiated that occurs between successive treatment sessions, allowing the application of radiation to be adjusted individually and immediately. One of the key points of this scientific and technological breakthrough, which will have an impact on cancer treatment, is precisely the real-time MRI, which makes it possible to visualise the movement of the tumour during an irradiation session and to synchronise it with the application of radiation.
With the prototype presented today in Germany at Oncoray – the National Centre for Radiation Research in Oncology, it will in fact be possible, for the first time in the world, to study the extent to which the accuracy of proton therapy can be improved with the guidance of real-time MRI for the whole body. Head of the research group ‘Experimental MR-integrated Proton Therapy’ Prof. Aswin Hoffmann, with whom ASG engineers have been collaborating on the development of the new system over the years, said: “With this new prototype of integrated whole-body MRI, it is possible to visualise moving tumours with high-contrast images in real time. The goal of our work is to develop a technique to irradiate moving tumours only when they are in the right position to be hit by the proton beam. The MRI device, which can be rotated around the patient, offers the possibility of using innovative types of positioning of the patient to be treated with proton therapy in both recumbent and upright positions”.
The prototype, based on the ASG technology already used for the MROpenEVO system, the only MRI in the world with a completely open design and MgB2 cryogen-free superconductive technology, will be used to demonstrate through scientific studies the added value of this new treatment modality for tumours in the chest, abdomen and pelvis. The development and installation as well as commissioning were made possible thanks to the close collaboration with international technological and industrial partners such as ASG Superconductors, which, besides being the manufacturer of the MRI device used as a base, holds historical expertise in the development, design and manufacture of superconducting MRI magnets from 0.5T up to Ultra High Field 11.7T, while the company MagnetTx Oncology Solutions, Edmonton/Canada, designed the rotating technology part.
Marco Nassi, CEO – ASG Superconductors declared “It is very challenging to contribute to such an innovative technical and scientific project in the proton therapy sector in close collaboration with highly prestigious hospitals, partners, and universities. We are, even more so, very proud that our technologies and skills in terms of MgB2 superconducting material, magnets and MRI systems can provide a substantial contribution in making tumour treatments more effective in the near future”.
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