New cancer treatment launched

A new treatment system to help people fight cancer is going into service.

The Novalis Tx has the ability to destroy cancerous cells virtually anywhere in the body in a single, 20-minute session, without the need for a single cut of the scalpel, the manufacturers said.

The treatment has been installed at The Christie at Salford Royal Hospital, a new radiotherapy centre in the north west.

It treats cancer using a specialised technique called radiosurgery which is especially beneficial for tumours of the brain and spine previously thought untreatable by surgeons.

Using powerful, highly accurate beams of radiation shaped to fit the precise shape of even the most complex tumours, the system is able to treat painlessly without the need for invasive surgery, and with fewer side effects.

Novalis Tx

Novalis Tx

The short treatment times of the system benefit both doctor and patient and mean more patients can be treated on the system in one day.

Rachel Good, Christie radiotherapy manager for the new centre, said: “The Novalis Tx was the perfect choice for the centre because it will help The Christie treat more patients by switching between specialised radiosurgery for tumours in the brain to standard radiotherapy for other cancers of the body.

“In our first year we are looking to treat 720 patients with the Novalis Tx, 120 of which will be priority brain tumour patients where precise, non-invasive treatment is particularly effective.”


Of the 300,000 people in the UK diagnosed with cancer each year, 50,000 are estimated to develop either primary or secondary brain tumours, where traditional treatment is difficult to provide. Malignant primary brain tumours take more years off the average person’s life than any other cancer and are the most significant cause of cancer death among men under 45 and women under 35.

By the end of this year, three sites will be treating with the Novalis Tx developed by Varian Medical Systems and Brainlab in England and Scotland, improving access to advanced cancer care to patients across the UK.

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  1. Sharp paw tailwagger

    Ohio State University scientists have developed a tiny drug transporter that maximizes its ability to silence damaging genes by finding the equivalent of an expressway into a target cell, which may help improve cancer treatments.

    The transporter, called a nanocarrier, is a lipid-based structure containing a piece of RNA. Lipids are fatty molecules that help maintain the structure of cell membranes.

    The RNA segment encased in the carrier sets off a process to silence genes, rendering the genes unable to produce proteins that lead to disease or other health problems.

    Though the main component of the carrier resembles existing and previously studied transporters, Ohio State scientists have attached specific helper molecules to the carrier’s surface that their research suggests can enhance the transporter’s effectiveness.

    “We have designed a different nanocarrier formulation and demonstrated that this formulation can affect the cellular entry pathway, which in turn affects how long the siRNA is exposed to the main body of the cell,” said Chenguang Zhou, a graduate student in pharmaceutics at Ohio State and lead author of the study.

    “More of that exposure equals better and longer gene silencing,” he added.

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