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Crawley based company launches breakthrough in cancer treatment

Elekta’s ‘ground-breaking’ new technology will revolutionise radiation therapy cancer treatment.

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In June Elekta announced that its Elekta Unity magnetic resonance radiation therapy (MR/RT) system has received CE mark, clearing the technology for commercial sales and clinical use in Europe.

Elekta’s new technology, Unity, has the potential to transform how clinicians treat cancer by enabling the delivery of the radiation dose while simultaneously visualizing the tumor and surrounding healthy tissue with high-quality MR images. Unity also integrates advanced tools that allow clinicians to adapt the patient’s treatment to this current anatomical information.

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The launch of Elekta Unity addresses a critical unmet need in cancer therapy to enable clinicians to “see while they treat”.

This allows them to more accurately target tumours with radiation in real time while avoiding damage to the surrounding healthy soft tissue, supporting personalised treatment to suit individual patients’ anatomy.

Crawley MP Henry Smith said:

“As someone who advocates in Parliament for improved cancer treatments, it’s uplifting that such innovative technologies are being successfully developed right here in Crawley.

I’ve long been proud of Elekta’s association with our town and admire their world-leading reputation in this area.”

Maurits Wolleswinkel, Head of Portfolio and Chief Strategy Officer at Elekta explains:

“We just released a new device where we are combining a high-field MRI scanner with a linear accelerator, so a beam that basically irradiates the tumour.

“What’s unique about it – MRI scanners are, I think, known to a lot of people. They [MRIs] can basically visualise tissue inside the body in a very accurate and sensitive way but it’s a complex piece of equipment. The linear accelerator radiates the beam – also a complex piece of equipment – bringing those two together is far from easy, that’s a huge engineering challenge. But what it in the end delivers, is for the first time we can really treat inside the body while we are looking inside the body as well. So treatment and imaging at the same time. If the cancer or the tumour moves, we can see it. If it shrinks, if it enlarges, we see everything while we treat.”

“Combining a high-field MRI scanner, a diagnostic imaging scanner with a linear accelerator has never been done before.

“In the past, it was often about trying to control the cancer at any means but patients typically were facing quite some side effects. If you shoot more precisely, only on the tumour and not on the structures around it, side effects will be lower, quality of life will be better and with cancer we see it’s becoming more and more of a chronic disease so the attention for side effects and quality of life is also becoming increasingly important and this new innovation of combining these two technologies in MRI and linear accelerating fits perfectly in that trend.”

The video below shows how the new technology differs from radiation therapy today:

Crawley born and raised, Steve Wort, COO at Elekta said:

“It is a sort of paradigm shift, I mean to go from combining a linear accelerator with an MR scanner, a huge magnet with an electron beam, it’s like oil and water, the two don’t go together. But the technology that has enabled us to do that is ground-breaking.”

“Receiving CE mark for Unity is a big achievement in revolutionizing the field of radiation therapy and a real watershed moment for treating cancer,” said Richard Hausmann, President and CEO, Elekta. “The change that MR/RT will bring in cancer therapy is paramount in advancing patient treatment. I’m thankful to the MR-linac Consortium members, Philips (our MR technology partner) and our dedicated employees for helping us reach this important day.”

Mr Wolleswinkel summarised what Elekta does:

“In essence, we build the machines for our customers, and our customers are typically the physicians or the physicists and the therapists that all work with the machine. In the end, they are serving the patients. So, we are an indirect chain just one step behind that. In that sense, we typically don’t market to the patient. It’s a bit difficult to reach all the potential patients in the world. But for us it’s very important that we become a partner for clinicians, so our primary customer is the clinician.

“If you ask most clinicians in our field, ‘Do you know Elekta?’ I would say the brand recognition is close to 100 per cent. They know where to find us but, in the end, it’s them that really use our equipment to treat patients.”

Monday (3 September) saw Elekta employees join national and local political representatives and distinguished guests in a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the company’s Cornerstone campus.

The opening of the new campus, which Elekta envisions will become a magnet for oncology innovation, has helped cement Crawley’s reputation as a world-class hub for the design and manufacture of precision radiation therapy technologies dating back more than 60 years.

Maurits Wolleswinkel described the new cornerstone building as:

“A building that reflects innovation and it also creates an atmosphere of how innovation should be done in the future – open, collaborative and we’re extremely excited about the opening of this new building.”

While Elekta COO Steve Wort, said:

“We are an extremely innovative company, it is part of our DNA.

“What this facility does is it really does provide the opportunity to be very creative and very innovative. If you walk around the site – the open spaces, the bean bags, the table tennis, you can play foosball, it’s a little bit Google-like in that sense.

“I absolutely love it when I walk down here with the café there and you have people sitting there having a meeting over a coffee – sitting on the steps, sitting on the little rocking chairs or having a meeting in a room with the bean bags on the floor and it’s just really, really good.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Post Office WILL CLOSE whatever consultation says

A source within the Post Office has revealed that despite a public consulation coming up, the decision to close the current location has already been made.

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Despite press releases and statements from the head office of the Post Office asking residents to express their views over the ‘proposed’ closure, it now appears that whatever views come through, a decision of whether to close the site has already been determined.

A source says the consultation is nothing more than lip service to residents.

Speaking to CN24, the source said that all the consultation will look at is ‘how’ the change of venue will work, not ‘if’ or ‘should’ it happen.

“it is an utter betrayal” – Leader of Crawley Council

This will come as a shock to many in the area who rely heavily on the services that are currently offered and will put in doubt any faith over public consultations.

In a letter aimed at the management of the Post Office and sent to CN24, one resident,  Mrs Elmer from Tilgate has expressed her views over the proposed closure.

She writes:

“I am extremely concerned about the possible closure of Crawley Post Office.

I find it very worrying that in a town with a population of over 106,000 the management is considering popping it into a shop in the shopping mall.

The fact that one always has to queue to be served because it is so busy, even though it has at least five stations of service as well as several self service positions, a parcel counter, an external parcel collection office plus a fully trained staff, how is all of that going to fit into WH Smith’s in the Mall?

To park in the Mall you have to pay.

It is not an easy shop to get to, you have to walk half the length of the Mall to get there.
It is not a very large shop and it has a quite dismal atmosphere.

Disabled people would not be able to reach it very easily.

To carry out all the functions the current post office does it would have to enlarge the premises half as much again.

Working on the assumption that it would work on the same premise that the local one in Tilgate does, it will take a month of Sundays to carry out the same amount of work the real post office does.

Will all the staff move over to continue the secure work they carry out?

Please have a serious look at the situation before making a huge mistake.

J Elmer”

But it now seems that this will fall on deaf ears.  CN24 contacted the Post Office press team where a member verbally confirmed that the consultation would be about access to the new site.

Crawley Council Leader Peter Lamb said:

“It is clear now that this was only ever a public relations exercise.  For the thousands of people who will be disadvantaged by this it is an utter betrayal.”

Tilgate Councillor Francis Guidera said:

“The planned post office DOWNGRADE which their PR department is marketing as a move, is bad for the staff, bad for the customers and bad for the town in general.

Our main post office will no longer be able to offer Crown Services going forward and nobody I’ve spoken to is ok with it. I would strongly urge the post office not to go ahead with this.”

A Post Office spokesperson said:

“We would really value and welcome any feedback and comments from you, our customers that can help inform our plans to make changes to Crawley Post Office, particularly on issues like accessibility. And are there any wider other local community issues which you believe could be affected by or affect the proposed move? Please do let us know.

However, the element of our plans that we not seeking feedback is the principle of franchising a branch. This is because the change of management at Crawley Post Office to one that is operated by a retail partner rather than Post Office directly is a commercial decision, and we believe it is the right one in order to sustain Post Office services in communities – not just today, but for the long term too.”

Crawley MP Henry Smith said:

“I’ve got accessibility concerns with the Post Office’s proposals to move their current Boulevard counters to WHSmith’s in County mall and have written to its management to raise these.

If it turns our their consultation – officially still open – is a sham then I will be raising the issue in Parliament.”

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