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MR Linac: first healthy volunteer scanned in pioneering new radiotherapy machine 30 de Noviembre del 2017

he first healthy volunteer has been scanned using a revolutionary new type of radiotherapy machine, which is set to transform cancer treatment by allowing radiation to be aimed at tumours with extreme precision.

The scan is part of the initial trials of the MR Linac. The machines technology allows for magnetic resonance images to be generated at the same time as X-ray radiation beams are delivered to the tumour.

The technology is set to set to make radiotherapy more effective and reduce its side-effects, by targeting radiation precisely at the patients tumour. It can even take into account movements of the tumour in the body, for instance as a patient breathes.

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust are the first in the UK to install an MR Linac machine.

The healthy volunteer did not receive any radiation treatment but was scanned to provide MRI images to help test and calibrate the equipment. Clinical studies that begin next year will trial both the radiotherapy and MRI scanning elements of the MR Linac.

First healthy volunteer

The volunteer Ross Lydall, Health Editor of the London Evening Standard was scanned as part of the PRIMER study, which involves producing MRI scans of healthy volunteers, followed by patient volunteers. These cancer patients will be scanned before and during their radiotherapy treatment.

The researchers will use the information from the scans to help decide the best ways to use the imaging capabilities of the MR Linac. This will ensure it is used most effectively in trials where the radiotherapy is combined with the precise MR imaging functionality.

By combining an MRI scanner with the technology to deliver radiotherapy, the MR Linac works slightly differently from the conventional imaging kit. This means the researchers need to find the best ways to run the machine so it produces the highest-quality images.

Experiencing the scan

Ross described his experience of being scanned in the MR Linac:

Going into the tunnel of the scanner, I felt bit like an astronaut I imagined I was Tim Peake in the International Space Station. It did feel a little alarming at first but once I closed my eyes and relaxed, the time flew by.

It was an honour to be the first volunteer to be scanned and it was fascinating to learn how my images will help the research to develop the technology. I feel very happy to do even a tiny bit to help people with cancer who might need this machine in the future.



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