After surgery, radiotherapy is the most important method of curing cancer. In fact, 40% of all patients cured of cancer are cured by radiotherapy, and over 50% of cancer patients will benefit from receiving radiotherapy as part of their management. However, more than 350 million people do not have access to radiotherapy services. According to the WHO, more than half of cancer patients live in low and middle-income countries, but have access to less than a third of the world’s available radiotherapy equipment.
The Sydney, Australia-based startup Nano-X is determined to change the delivery and increase access of radiotherapy. They are developing a new system that drastically simplify and will enable affordable radiotherapy in small-town hospitals. While conventional radiotherapy machines require a patient to lie motionless on their back while a several thousand kilogram X-ray system revolves around them, Nano-X simply and gently rotates the patient on a custom-designed couch while the treatment beam is fixed. In addition, an advanced on-board imaging / planning system captures 3D images in real-time, controls the radiation beam, and automatically delivers the right amount of energy to the right tissue. This helps target the tumor with precision and accuracy even as the patient’s anatomy changes during treatment.
There is a massive global demand for affordable radiotherapy machines. Well over 20,000 new machines are needed by 2035 to augment and replace 13,000 in use today. But radiotherapy involves large, expensive and sophisticated machines, which need specialized concrete rooms with significant staffing and service support. The innovative Nano-X system deliver significant cost reductions. The startup introduce a state-of-the-art clinical radiotherapy precision with a machine that has a significantly smaller footprint, reduced shield requirements, as well as lowering the staff-to-patient ratios. In fact, it is estimated that Nano-X can deliver the treatment at about 10% of the cost of current machines.
The smarter and smaller cancer radiotherapy machine enable affordable and accessible radiotherapy in resource-limited areas. It is less expensive to produce, less expensive to site, and can deliver a more complete therapy to patients outside major urban locations. This means that millions of people around the world will get access to cancer treatment, and that patients and their families do not have to travel to a centralized cancer center for the best treatment.
Nano-X's technology was developed at the University of Sydney, and the startup is now part of the ATP Innovations, Australia’s leading business incubator for advanced technology startups. Their prototype was funded through grants from the Australian Research Council, and they recently secured $2.5 million in funding from the NSW Department of Health’s Medical Device Fund. The funding will help commence animal treatments and translate those learnings into the final design of a clinical system.