UAlberta Research in Your Life

Linac-MR:
Improving cancer radiotherapy treatment                

The Aurora RT™ was developed and refined by the UAlberta researchers and the Linac MR Research group at the Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute. The group started the Advanced Real Time Adaptive Radio Therapy (ART2) program in 2005 to tackle the challenge of combining a Linear Accelerator’s (Linac’s) proven cancer treatment capability with the soft tissue imaging capability of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

Tumors can move and you can’t hit what you can’t see
Treating cancer tumors with radiation is a standard and accepted treatment. But targeting tumors that can move, like those in the lungs, prostate or stomach, is a big challenge. As is avoiding hitting healthy organs near tumor sites. Currently, radiation treatment requires two separate appointments. One to identify tumor location and a second to treat that tumor with radiation. But tumors can shift between appointments, even a cough or big sigh can move a tumor, so doctors and patients must accept that healthy tissue could be damaged by radiation as a result.

Putting tumors in the cross hairs
Enter University of Alberta medical physicists Gino Fallone and Brad Murray, who addressed this challenge by building the built the first functioning Linac-MR system. The new device that merges an MRI machine and medical linear accelerator into one. Called the Aurora RT™ Linac-MR, the device enables continuous adjustment of radiation to hit only the tumor with unprecedented accuracy, no matter how much it shifts during or between radiation delivery.

Worldwide patent
The Linac-MR team, led by Fallone, has built two functional prototypes and published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles on the technology. They have also launched UAlberta spinoff company, MagnetTX Oncology Solutions and have secured global rights from Alberta Health Services and UAlberta to make the Aurora RT™ available to doctors and patients everywhere.