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Varian unveils AI-powered adaptive radiation therapy system at ASTRO

by Lisa Chamoff, Contributing Reporter | September 15, 2019
Rad Oncology
Varian Ethos
Varian Oncology Systems unveiled the world's first cancer care delivery system powered by artificial intelligence (AI) on the opening day of the ASTRO meeting in Chicago.

Called Ethos and marketed as an Adaptive Intelligence solution, the radiation therapy system is designed to adapt treatment to the patient on a day-to-day basis in the standard 15-minute treatment time slot.

The technology is able to alter a patient's treatment plan based on the tumor and anatomical changes.

"Every patient is different on every day," Chris Toth, president of Varian Oncology Systems, told HCB News. "During the course of therapy, the tumor is changing, This personalizes therapy on a day-to-day basis."

The streamlined workflow of Ethos therapy is enabled by its AI-driven planning and contouring capabilities.

With Ethos, the physician inputs their intent for the treatment, which is then changed, based on the shape and cellular characteristics, and change in position, of the patient's tumor, while they're in the room for treatment. The system also utilizes multimodality images, including MR, PET and CT.

While other companies have unveiled image-guided adaptive radiation therapy systems, such as ViewRay's MRIdian Linac and the Elekta Unity system, which also combines MR and linear accelerator technology, Toth says the AI technology allows for a more streamlined workflow and shorter treatment time.

"I think we're leapfrogging anything that's out there," Toth said. "Other devices have been designed to do adaptive radiation therapy, but I think of AI in the context of aiding the physician. If I'm sitting at a console marking outlines ... it's not the best use of my time. The problems that have been there have been workflow, time for treatment and the ability to achieve this on a routine basis. What Ethos therapy represents for Varian is achievement of being able to move to this era of personalized on-couch daily adaptive radiation therapy, and being able to do it in a standard treatment time."

Ethos has just received a CE mark and the company has submitted for FDA clearance.

The first patients were recently treated at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital in Denmark. Toth said they had initially planned to treat one patient, but the physicians were so impressed with the workflow that they are treating more. In one bladder cancer case, Toth said "if they had not adapted they would not have fulfilled the clinical intent of the treatment."

"This level of adoption is unprecedented," Toth said.

“Ethos therapy will enable our physicians to better visualize the changes in a patient’s anatomy and quickly adapt the therapy accordingly to help provide better treatments to patients,” Dr. Poul Geertsen, head of radiotherapy in the department of oncology at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, said in a statement. "We have already delivered the first Ethos therapy treatment and our clinical staff was impressed by the capabilities and the ability to deliver this advanced treatment in a typical time slot.”

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