UT Southwestern first site in North America to house, test advanced cancer treatment system

DALLAS — Nov. 3, 2010 — UT Southwestern Medical Center will be the first institution in North America to install Vero SBRT, an advanced system for delivering noninvasive radiation treatment to cancer patients.

The Vero SBRT system integrates many state-of-the-art radiation therapy capabilities into one machine and is designed to locate tumors and meticulously direct radiation precisely where it is needed. This type of cancer treatment, called stereotactic body radiation therapy, or SBRT, is a noninvasive procedure that delivers radiation beams to a tumor in a concentrated, precise manner, minimizing damage to healthy tissues and reducing the number of treatment sessions for patients.

SBRT typically is delivered to patients by one or more different machines, each providing its own specialized form of treatment. UT Southwestern’s Department of Radiation Oncology currently treats cancer patients utilizing many of these advanced technologies.

In SBRT, each radiation beam is relatively weak and causes very little damage when traveling through the patient’s body. When all the beams converge at the tumor, however, their cumulative effect delivers an extremely potent high dose aimed at destroying the target cells with great precision.

 “We have the reputation at UT Southwestern for delivering cutting-edge radiotherapy, and we have recognized experts, both physicians and physicists, who are capable of applying this new technology for the benefit of our patients,” said Dr. Hak Choy, chairman of radiation oncology at UT Southwestern.

In collaboration with Brainlab AG of Germany, the Vero device will be installed on the UT Southwestern campus in early 2011. The first patients to be treated with the device at the medical center could be seen as early as next summer. Radiation oncology and medical physics experts at UT Southwestern will evaluate the Vero SBRT system and develop clinical guidelines for its use.

 “Having the Vero system at UT Southwestern will provide another powerful weapon in the fight against cancer,” said Dr. James Willson, director of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern. “As our recent designation by the National Cancer Institute indicates, advanced cancer research and patient care is our utmost priority, and the ability to offer patients access to care they may not be able to get elsewhere is key.”

Dr. Choy said that the Vero SBRT system’s integration of several capabilities and technologies in one machine should allow clinicians to treat patients with a combination of therapies without moving the patient from machine to machine. The patient remains stationary in the device while the machine’s internal ring rotates around the patient to deliver treatment beams from nearly any angle. The Vero machine also incorporates several different types of imaging technologies, including X-ray, CT and fluoroscopy, which allow clinicians to locate and track tumors, even when the patient’s body moves while breathing. 

Unique to the Vero SBRT is a gimbaled linear accelerator head that can move in multiple directions. Dr. Robert Timmerman, professor of radiation oncology and neurological surgery and a recognized authority on SBRT, said this feature allows the machine to “chase” a tumor through the full extent of its motion.

“Right now it’s a theoretical advantage, and we’d like to make that into an actual advantage through clinical practice,” Dr. Timmerman said. “Our past research has made SBRT a standard indication for lung cancer and liver cancer. We can use this tool to expand our ability to do effective and efficient treatments in other sites, such as the pancreas or smaller targets in the lung.”  

In addition to UT Southwestern, the Vero SBRT system has been installed in facilities in Japan and Europe.

“Vero is next generation technology for institutions that are very progressive in their clinical approach,” said Dr. Timothy Solberg, director of medical physics and engineering in UT Southwestern’s Department of Radiation Oncology. “The medical community and industry look to us as a premier cancer center for research and clinical care to pave the way for a new technology that will truly benefit patients."

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Media Contact: Amanda Siegfried
UT Southwestern Medical Center
214-648-3404
amanda.siegfried@utsouthwestern.edu

Media Contact: Brian Bass
Vero GmbH
919-622-1207
brian.bass@vero-sbrt.com

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