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UHN inventor transforms cancer radiation treatment planning

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Dr. Thomas Purdie  

Dr. Thomas Purdie accepts the 2012 Inventor of the Year award at the UHN Annual General Meeting at MaRS on
 June 19, 2013. (Photo: UHN Research Communications)

UHN Medical Physicist and Techna Faculty, Dr. Thomas Purdie, was recently awarded UHN's 2012 Inventor of the Year award for developing a software that has significantly improved the way cancer radiation therapy is delivered. Dr. Purdie’s software, which was developed with the support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, has now been used to treat over 1,700 patients at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The technology has been licensed to RaySearch Laboratories through UHN’s TDC Office and will be made available to radiation treatment clinics around the world by the end of the year.

Effective radiotherapy treatments use high precision doses of radiation to kill tumour cells while minimizing any damage to adjacent healthy cells. Therefore, each patient requires a customized treatment map that directs radiation to where it is required. Previously this process was performed manually, which was extremely time-consuming because tumours often have complex shapes. Dr. Purdie has developed software that automates the analysis of diagnostic images, and maps the tumour in a fraction of the time compared to traditional methods. This system not only reduces the treatment planning process from two hours to six minutes, it also allows breast cancer patients to be imaged, planned and treated in the same day, and typically in less than three hours.

The UHN Inventor of the Year award, sponsored through UHN’s Technology Development and Commercialization (TDC) Office, honours a UHN researcher that has made outstanding and inventive contributions to patient-oriented biomedical research by developing technologies with commercialization potentials.

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