Unlike Britney and soon-to-be ex-husband K-Fed (see "Medical physics: the pick of the ASTRO papers", posted November 8), all the talking, pitching and schmoozing at the 48th annual ASTRO meeting is already last week's news. For the more than 11,000 delegates and 200+ exhibiting organizations, however, the hard graft of following up on those key contacts, potential collaborators and sales leads is only just beginning. Meanwhile, your correspondent in Philadelphia is once again your correspondent in Bristol, UK, and the task this end is to close the circle on medicalphysicsweb's ASTRO event blog. With that in mind, I've dredged through my notes and associated product literature to recap some of the other significant announcements to feature at the ASTRO trade exhibition last week:
• Accuray, US, and Siemens Medical Solutions, Germany, signed a collaboration agreement on the development of advanced imaging and software products for use in both radiosurgery and radiotherapy. The two companies will jointly focus on the integration and optimization of Siemens' CT imaging technology with Accuray's CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System. They will also work towards the integration of Accuray's targeting techniques into Siemens radiotherapy product line. For more on Accuray at ASTRO, see "Different takes on image guidance" (posted November 9).
• Philips of the Netherlands announced a tie-up with the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL) on the development of proton-therapy planning software. The two partners will work closely with a consortium of clinical proton-therapy centres to guide the definition and preclinical testing phases of the project. In addition to the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute, consortium members include Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA), MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX), Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland) and Indiana University's Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute. In a separate announcement, Philips and RaySearch Medical (Stockholm, Sweden) signed an agreement to expand their current IMRT optimization OEM relationship to focus on areas such as biologically- and image-guided adaptive radiation therapy.
• IBA of Belgium unveiled a new concept, dubbed the Two-Step Particle Therapy System, which it claims will enable hospitals to begin administering proton therapy and gradually bring carbon and light-ion therapies online within the same facility. One of the key innovations is a 400 MeV cyclotron for accelerating carbon and other light ions in the clinical environment. The design also includes a proprietary ion-source switching system that allows at least eight ion species to be utilized, changing sources in less than 1 min. "At this stage, all major uncertainties have been cleared, and several major hospitals have expressed an interest," claimed Pierre Mottet, IBA's CEO. "[However], there remain regulatory and reimbursement decisions yet to be taken. Our two-step approach helps mitigate these risks, allowing an institution to get started, gain experience and financial viability with proton therapy as the first step, and add carbon therapy capability some years later – when regulatory requirements have been met and appropriate reimbursement established." For more on IBA at ASTRO, see "Astro intro" (posted November 5).
• Nucletron of the Netherlands announced the commercial launch of IPSA, an anatomy-based inverse planning algorithm that, it claims, will streamline brachytherapy planning. IPSA (or Inverse planning simulated annealing algorithm) was developed by Etienne Lesard and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco (see also Algorithm streamlines brachytherapy planning on medicalphysicsweb). The product has been designed for 3D image-guided brachytherapy treatment planning and is available for permanent prostate implants as well as for high-dose-rate brachytherapy. According to the technical specs, optimization is guided by organ-specific dose objectives. IPSA takes into account multiple targets and multiple organs at risk (urethra, rectum, bladder, etc). The adjustment of weighting factors sets the relative importance of dose objectives for each organ and between dose conformality and dose homogeneity. IPSA automatically selects the active dwell positions and optimizes the dwell times to fulfil those objectives.
• Varian Medical Systems, US, unveiled new motion-management capabilities for its Eclipse radiotherapy treatment-planning system, "enabling clinicians to increase treatment precision for tumours in mobile areas of the body, such as the lung", according to a press statement. "The system enables clinicians to see and assess the extent of any tumour motion, and to design treatment strategies that take the motion into account so that radiation doses can be concentrated more closely on the tumour even as it moves," said Jeff Amacker, director, treatment planning systems at Varian.
Remember, this report and the posts preceding it don't pretend to be the last word on the 48th annual ASTRO meeting. As noted in the November 5 introduction to ASTRO, "there's going to be a lot of talking about a lot of stuff" - and that certainly proved to be the case. Hopefully, though, this blog goes some way towards helping readers gain a structured perspective on the more important headline themes to emerge from all that talking last week, whether in the research, clinical or industrial context.
By way of sign off, it's worth pointing out that if you attended the ASTRO meeting, either as a conference delegate or as an exhibitor, then we'd love to hear your take on the event - especially any big stories that you think really should have featured in our coverage. To fill in the blanks, just drop us a note along with some supporting details via the easy-to-use commenting facility within the blog.