Description of collaboration/licensing activity
University of Wisconsin-Madison professors Thomas Mackie and Paul Reckwerdt wanted to solve a big problem in cancer treatment therapy — the serious damage to normal tissues and organs created by standard radiation therapy. They were intrigued with the idea of building a machine that could deliver a tightly controlled pattern of radiation that preferentially strikes cancer tumors, sparing the surrounding tissue from harm.
The breakthrough that Reckwerdt and Mackie discovered is called helical TomoTherapy-brand radiotherapy, which creates a helical pattern of radiation around the patient. This allows rotating beamlets of radiation to be directed into the patient’s body from any angle, a far better approach than the two or three angles of penetration that traditional radiation therapy has provided.
The second key part of the TomoTherapy Hi-Art System is a built-in computerized tomography (CT) scanner. For helical TomoTherapy-brand radiotherapy to be effective, it must be guided with utmost accuracy.
The initial R&D was undertaken at the University of Wisconsin with a $250,000 federal grant from the National Cancer Institute. The Technology Transfer Office at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) filed its first patent applications on the technology in 1992. WARF also contributed more than $1 million to help fund continuing research. TomoTherapy Inc. was established in 1997 and five years later its Hi-Art System prototype was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Today more than 200 Hi-Art Systems are in operation around the world.