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Specialty Magnetics collaborates with ICR and STFC to develop new MRI scanner

Specialty Scanners : 29 May, 2008  (Company News)
Specialty Magnetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Specialty Scanners, is collaborating with the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to develop a new, dedicated intra-operative magnetic resonance (MR) scanner which will enable doctors to carry out image-guided breast cancer surgery as soon as problems are detected and diagnosed - possibly in a single out-patient session.
The new system's benefits include:

- MRI does not involve the use of potentially harmful ionizing radiation

- Cancer diagnosis to treatment, potentially reduced, to one outpatient session

- Non-invasive and minimally-invasive treatment procedures leading to rapid recovery

- Real-time image guided clinical procedures for increased diagnostic and treatment accuracy

- Potential to rapidly diagnose and treat most cancers such as breast, prostate, liver and kidney

This is the second MR scanner research and development project in which Specialty Magnetics is collaborating with the ICR and the STFC. This new £3.2 million project, which began in April 2008, will receive an investment of £1.6 million from the UK Government-sponsored Technology Strategy Board.

Using conventional MR Imaging (MRI) systems, patients have to be removed from the scanner and the results analysed before any surgical treatment can be conducted. But the new Intra-operative, Dedicated Breast MR Scanner being developed will allow image-guided surgery to take place in ‘real time’ at the moment the problem is detected and diagnosed.

The new Intra-operative MR Scanner project will provide a platform for treating tumours using non-invasive or minimally invasive ablation techniques such as focused-ultrasound or cryo-ablation leading - unlike in open excisional surgery - to less trauma, more breast tissue conservation, potentially no hospitalisation and less anxiety and stress to women.

With one-in-nine women, on average, developing breast cancer at some point in their lifetime, the new technology could change the way breast cancer is diagnosed and treated and the patients are likely to see dramatic benefits. The new technology will enable the integration of image guided diagnostic and treatment procedures, seamlessly under one-roof, thereby shortening the women's pathway to treatment potentially, from several weeks and even months to one outpatient session.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, commented: 'The Technology Strategy Board supports the research and development of technology and innovation that both increases economic growth and has the potential to improve quality of life. We are therefore delighted to support this project, which brings together the UK's world class expertise and has the potential to bring significant benefits to many thousands of patients.'

Prof Martin Leach, director, Cancer Research UK Clinical MR Research Group, Institute of Cancer Research commented: 'The ICR has a long history of interest and involvement in the breast cancer research and have also been involved in the collaborative technology development projects targeting breast cancer. For instance, the UK wide MARIBS study -comparing the role of MR imaging (MRI) with the X-ray mammography (XRM) in the screening of a women at high risk - was led by the ICR. Findings of this pioneering study led to the issue of the new, updated guidelines by the NICE recommending the use of MRI in the screening of high-risk women. Under the new NICE guidelines, the centres offering screening services should also be capable of performing MRI-guided biopsy procedures. As an Academic Partner, we believe we can contribute a great deal to the successful execution of many aspects of this project and looking forward to that opportunity.'

Dr Tom Bradshaw, head of cryogenics, Science and Technology Facilities Council commented: 'This is an highly exciting project and its successful execution will require the application of multi-disciplinary skills. In that respect, the STFC is perhaps a rather uniquely placed organisation where many scientists and engineers with such a diverse range of skills - including expertise in cryogenics, robotics, display and materials technologies - are gathered in one location. There is consensus that in addition to the other form of cancer treatment options such as Radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the minimally invasive thermal ablation therapy method of cryo-ablation can play an important role in the management of many suitably selected group of patients. We also believe that MRI is the ideal modality for guiding the thermal ablation procedures and we are looking forward to the opportunity of making our own innovative contributions.'

Dr Ali Akgun, chief executive officer, Specialty Scanners commented: 'We are extremely pleased that our wholly-owned subsidiary, Specialty Magnetics will be, once again, working closely with the ICR and the STFC in another award winning project as a Lead and Industrial Partner. We value highly our now well- established links with these two highly eminent academic institutions. Our first collaboration has resulted in the creation of a truly dedicated and novel Breast MR Scanner, and I am confident that by bringing together their considerable expertise and resources these three partners will successfully execute this rather worthwhile project too. There is a great deal of interest in the availability of integrated, 'one-stop' Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS) Centres for cancer management and our Intra-operative MR Scanner project will help the company to pioneer the construction of such a centre for breast cancer management and raise further the quality of care for women.'
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