UF unveils imaging machine for cancer treatment 

Elekta Unity MR-Linac, a 1.5-Tesla MRI-guided linear accelerator
The Elekta Unity MR-Linac, a 1.5-Tesla MRI-guided linear accelerator, will provide personalized cancer treatment by combining extremely detailed MRI with precision radiotherapy. (Courtesy UF Health)
Courtesy UF Health

UF Health recently became the first site in the southeastern United States to house a device that will provide personalized cancer treatment by combining magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with precision radiotherapy. 

The new device will provide therapeutic options for patients dealing with challenging types of cancers, such as pancreatic and liver and tumors that have metastasized or spread into soft tissues, according to a UF Health press release.

The 1.5-Tesla MRI-guided linear accelerator, called the Elekta Unity MR-Linac, required more than two years of construction, installation and training in the UF College of Medicine’s department of radiation oncology at the UF Health Davis Cancer Pavilion. The device was unveiled on July 21 and is now available for patient care. 

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“I am thrilled that we will be able to offer this leading-edge technology to our patients and further support the life-changing care our teams in radiation oncology already provide,” said Traci d’Auguste, chief operating officer for UF Health. “We keep advancing our treatments and investing to improve for our patients.” 

The device is only one of 42 in clinical use worldwide. It has real-time MRI capabilities that will allow physicians to plan and deliver precise, adaptive treatment, which is critical for patients with tumors in the liver, prostate, gastrointestinal organs and urinary and reproductive tracts. 

“This technology provides more opportunities to improve our use of radiation therapy than we’ve ever had,” said Dr. Robert Zlotecki, a professor and vice chair for clinical affairs in the department of radiation oncology. “The 1.5-T MR-Linac allows us to visualize changes in the tumor or tumors with each daily treatment precisely delivered. We can probe the biology of cancers as we are treating by using predictive biomarkers of tumor response. Truly translational research can be achieved with this technology.” 

The Elekta Unity MR-Linac features a magnet 30,000 times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field. This imaging is encased in a radiation delivery system called a linear accelerator, or linac. The moving, ring-shaped frame of the accelerator is six times faster than conventional treatment systems, which means there are much higher odds for accurately and successfully destroying a tumor, as there will be less chance for either tumor or normal organ motion to occur. 

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