To help develop and provide particle therapy solutions, Siemens has established strategic partnerships with ACCEL Instruments GmbH, headquartered in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, a company with more than 20 years' experience in particle accelerator technology; and with Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI), a German-government funded, heavy ion research centre located in Darmstadt, Germany.
"This commitment to particle therapy, in addition to Siemens' pioneering efforts in Intensity Modulated and Imaged-Guided Radiation Therapy, demonstrates the company's dedication to providing customers with the most innovative diagnostic and treatment solutions available", stated Hermann Requardt, Ph.D., executive vice president, Siemens Medical Solutions. "With the ACCEL and GSI agreements, Siemens will be able to leverage our existing competencies in oncology with the latest research to develop new technologies, providing complete oncology solutions to the health care community, and giving patients access to the world's most advanced cancer care."
Particle therapy treatments are delivered to cancerous tumour cells through the use of fast-moving atomic particles, most commonly ions or protons. These charged particles provide a treatment beam that differs from the conventional electromagnetic radiation beam more commonly associated with therapy treatments.
The unique Bragg Peak characteristic of particle beams provides the most precise delivery of treatments available today. Pinpoint focusing of the treatment provides millimeter accuracy in dose delivery, lowers integral dose, and reduces the dose and associated toxicity to normal tissues. Particle therapy is considered by many clinicians to be a treatment of choice in regions such as the base of the skull or the spinal canal where radiation to the critical tissues outside of the tumour is contra-indicated.
Although particle beam therapy has been used for many decades, most treatments were performed on equipment that was designed and manufactured for research. Today, there are waiting lists at many of the limited treatment sites around the world, although current clinical experience suggests that improved outcomes and reduced complications with particle therapy are making this treatment an even more popular and logical choice for a broader range of clinical indications.
Because millimeter tumour localization is necessary for particle therapy treatment, a requirement for success is precise imaging and software capabilities that Siemens is uniquely positioned to deliver. For example, Siemens COHERENCE oncology workspaces can be easily adapted to support this emerging treatment, and the company's advanced diagnostic imaging systems offer the detailed images needed to successfully target the therapy.
Building upon the company's leadership position in these areas, along with these new partnership agreements and the treatment planning capabilities of the recently acquired MRC Systems GmbH, Siemens now will be able to offer customers a unique, integrated oncology solution from treatment planning through the most advanced treatment delivery, supported with image-guided patient positioning.
More news from Siemens Medical Solutions is available in this VMW issue's articles: