UTRECHT, the Netherlands -- An innovative treatment for liver cancer using radioactive holmium microspheres to attack liver tumors has received the European CE mark for quality and safety. Developed by the University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht, the new treatment is being marketed by Quirem Medical, a spin-off company of the UMC Utrecht.
To attack liver tumors via radioembolization, the radioactive beads are injected into the hepatic artery. By entering the blood flow and becoming trapped in the tiniest blood vessels located in and around the liver tumors, these beads emit their radiation close to the tumor.
Next generation of microspheres
The holmium microspheres developed by UMC Utrecht
are the “the next generation of microspheres” since they follow developments with the proven and valued cancer therapy using radioembolization to treat liver tumors using yttrium microspheres, according to Quirem founder Dr. Frank Nijsen.
“The new holmium microspheres constitute the next step in the development of this technology. Because they show up on MRI scans and SPECT-CT, these microspheres can be tracked, allowing customized treatment for each individual patient,” Dr. Nijsen said.
The UMC Utrecht has been working for 15 years to develop this innovative treatment modality. For the last six year, patients with liver tumors have been undergoing the treatment in a scientific setting.
The spin-off company Quirem Medical
was founded in 2013 to make the treatment available also to patients outside the UMC Utrecht, and now patients all over Europe. The company is also currently working to obtain approval for the treatment in other regions.
"The CE marking reflects our ambition to make our technology available to people around the world," said Jan Sigger, CEO of Quirem Medical. "We can now work to further develop this holmium treatment together with our clinical partners."
Treating other cancers
Ongoing research at UMC Utrecht to adapt the new treatment for treating tumors in other organs will explore the use of holmium microspheres to treat head and neck tumors. As in the liver cancer treatment, unique image guidance with MRI introduces possibilities for closely monitoring the localized treatment of tumors and optimizing it as needed.
"I expect great things from this holmium therapy," said Prof. Maurice van den Bosch, an interventional radiologist at the UMC Utrecht who was closely involved in the development of this new treatment. "Patients with liver tumors will benefit, and I hope that we will be able to treat patients with other tumors more effectively in the future as well."