We just finished up a week in San Antonio, Texas, at the ASTRO (American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncologist) annual meeting. We were surrounded by all of the big device manufacturers like Accuray, Philips, Elekta, Siemens, Varian, Iba, and Hitachi, with their massive show displays towering above us. But our modest, elegantly appointed show booth still seemed to shine brightly. Although not in a prime spot (next to the restroom), we had a really high traffic. Maybe it was the restroom? Or maybe that our sales and marketing group did a great job out in front, prepping for the event. Either way, it was a big success.
Our show team included Rex Harmon and Mark Kidd for Pyrexar Team USA; Dr. Gerhard Sennewald and Martin Wadpohle from Sennewald Medizintechnik out of Germany; Mira Sirotic representing the team at ORB Healthcare. Paul Turner, Chief Technology Officer, was there answering any and all questions hyperthermic, plus Drew Wilkens in Marketing and Mark Falkowski, Pyrexar CEO, who was taking names and making deals. It was an extremely fast-paced show, continually busy with a long list of new potential clients. We also passed around our latest video, “One More Year.” If you have not had a chance to see the video, it is worth a look.
What we learned
We were not surprised that very few booth visitors knew about our product and how it increases outcomes. But after explaining the benefits of heating the cancer tumor, before or after radiation therapy, and sharing the clinical evidence, everyone seemed to be genuinely interested. The pathway to success is to continue sharing the message: Thermal Therapy Works.
The main event at this year's show appeared to be Proton Therapy, whose massive $200 million systems were the technological stars. Proton therapy is the pinpoint distribution of proton particles targeted at a tumor. It offers less damage to healthy tissues as the energy passes through the body than conventional x-ray radiation therapy. When clinicians heard that adding hyperthermia to their program could potentially make their system work better, they were shocked and intrigued. To us, it seemed like a “no brainer.” Adding our system would cost less the one half of one percent (0.005) to the total investment. If it means better results for the patient, why wouldn't every proton therapy system have a deep regional hyperthermia unit in each suite? Expect to see the combination of proton therapy and hyperthermia available soon.
We also want to recognize the team back in Salt Lake City for getting us to the show and supporting the sales efforts. In the middle of a very aggressive product build and ongoing new product development, everyone helped put together the resources we needed for a successful show. It looks like we will be participating in the ASTRO show again next year in Boston. (watch the One More Year video to find out why that location is a bit ironic).
If you missed us at ASTRO, please be sure to visit our booth (#6563) in Chicago at the RSNA, Nov 29th-Dec. 4th.
Amazon.com might someday be delivering your packages by a tiny drone, but when Pyrexar provides to a customer site, we use a crane. Delivery by crane is not our usual methodology, but when a brand new BSD-2000 arrived at the Healer's Care Center in Busan, South Korea, we headed off script for installation. At just under 9ft long, the Deep Regional Hyperthermia system was clearly not going to fit in a 5ft by 5ft freight elevator the cancer center had to offer.
But for a country of 49 million people in an area half the size of the state of Kentucky (pop. 4.4 million), tall buildings and tight accommodations are nothing new.
The engineers did not blink; they brought in a crane, created a lifting platform, and prepared the unit to be elevated high above the sidewalk. Some cover panels were removed, and anything that might get caught during the lift was secured to the system. A forklift delivered the system to a lifting platform at the end of a boom crane, and the crane lifted the 700 lb treatment base to a ninth-floor window. Workers removed the hallway window, transitioned the base to a scaffolding-like structure and down to the floor.
In no time, the system base joined its slightly smaller system components and was sitting in a brand new treatment room where successful installation and systems training sessions followed. A special thanks to the crew at the Healer's Care Center along with the team from HanBeam Technologies for their great effort. The new system is now successfully treating patients with cancer patients with the benefits of hyperthermia.
So next time someone brags about getting a pizza via drone, tell them about Pyrexar cancer treatment systems with crane delivery.
Pyrexar is proud to welcome a new distributor to the fight against cancer, Magna Medic Systems. Magna is headquartered just outside the city of Málaga on the Southern coast of Spain. We first met Elie Helou, General Manager, and Félix Navarro, Medical Physicist, at the annual European Society of Hyperthermic Oncology (ESHO) conference in Zurich, Switzerland. Their team was on a mission to bring hyperthermia to the forefront of Spain's oncology community and while at the conference sift through the competitive offerings to find the best fit. After hearing Pyrexar's presentation of the company's direction, along with the stream positive result findings from thermal therapy researchers from around the world, the group chose Pyrexar.
In addition to being an ESHO partner, Magna Medic is the driving force behind the creation of the thermal oncology working group of SEOR (Spanish Society of Radiation Oncology). SEOR is a group of 60 oncologists looking to improve cancer treatment outcomes with the latest in cancer-fighting technologies. Together they are building a thermal oncology training and education program that will span the country.
Magna joins long-time distributors, Sennewald Medizintechnik (Germany) and Orientech (China), along with newly added Linden Biosciences (Taiwan), HanBeam Technologies (Korea), ORB Global (UK), ORB Darou (Iran), ProCoss (Japan). BON FCZ (Middle East) and ORB Enerji (Central Asia). We look forward to working closely with the Magna team and plan to visit their facilities and tour the country. I have never been to Spain, but I kind of like their music. (Those under 40 may not catch the Three Dog Night reference, but if you want to see my 1970's high school fashion influence, here is a link, enjoy.)
On April 11, 2015, I posted my blog for the first time. We had just set up the office in a portion of the old BSD Medical building, and we seem to be moving at the speed of light. It was our first week in business, and I complained about the lack of staplers. Start-ups are awesome.
Five months later, we just moved into our expanded headquarters not too far down the road — lots of room for manufacturing and new space for research and development. The additional room is not the news; how we are putting it to work is the real story. It used to take 120 days to build a hyperthermia system, and now we do it in 30 days. We did not hire an army of technicians; what changed was the workflow. Not only is everyone on the team accountable, but the process also has transparency. New MRP/ERP system, a CRM tied to marketing automation, project management, and a new CAD system, everything in the cloud. Essentially, I can tell you where the sales lead was generated to when the customer site will install and all the steps in-between. (from my phone). Technology is pretty awesome.
But technology is not what got us to this point, that has everything to do with team and leadership. Mark Falkowski, our CEO, is a seasoned "turn-around" veteran. We were all handpicked; Sales, Regulatory, Manufacturing, Engineering, Finance, and Marketing, because we knew what needed to be done, and we did it. We all trust in Mark's vision, and he trusts our ability; that recipe works. Not saying I have not been worked harder than anytime in my career, but all of our efforts are starting to show. Teamwork is awesome.
But the truly remarkable part is that every time a new product goes out that door, someone with cancer is going to be helped. From here on out, it is a numbers game. The more systems that go out the door, the higher the number of people who will have access to this cancer treatment therapy. That my friends is a great reason to get up and go to work. To everyone reading this... thermal therapy works. Please share the news.
South Korea has the eighth highest cancer rate in the world (the US ranks sixth). Tracking cancer statistics in the country is the KCCR (Korea Central Cancer Registry), a nationwide hospital-based cancer registry established by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. According to the KCCR, stomach and colorectal cancer are some of the highest incidence of cancer among men and women in the country. This is an excellent opportunity for hyperthermia to make a positive impact on the citizens of South Korea.
After meeting Korea's strict regulatory standards, two new BSD-2000 Deep Regional Hyperthermia systems landed in South Korea. Pyrexar’s Field Service Manager, Ray Lauritzen, was onsite for installation and training. Joined by local distributor HanBeam Technology, the first unit was successfully installed and ready for operation at the newly opened Healer’s Care Hospital in the city of Busan. The second installation is scheduled for this week at the YCH Cancer Hospital in Seoul. Both oncology groups were looking forward to treating patients with the new systems.
Pyrexar team has finished the second BSD-2000 for shipment to South Korea today. After successfully navigating the regulatory hurdles of the KGMP, Korea Good Manufacturing Practices (see press release), and a successful build process, we are moving forward. I want to thank all the management and staff for pitching in and getting assembly and testing done before the end of the month. We are scheduled to start building our next two BSD-500 and two BSD-2000 in September. We are on pace for a great first year.
I don't want to be too self-congratulatory, but our team is good at this. It has been just under five months since we started Pyrexar, and the pace has been phenomenal. We connected with the BSD-2000/500 installed base to understand what they needed. We built a product road map that included upgrades and new products. We wowed them at STM (Society of Thermal Medicine) in Orlando and ESHO (European Society of Hyperthermic Oncology) in Switzerland. Launched a website, assembled a talented sales organization, implemented an MRP, untangled our regulatory status, plus secured distribution contracts with China, South Korea, Taiwan, UK, Turkey, Japan, Germany, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
We did it all with trust, cooperation, and teamwork. Congratulations to all.
My father died 23 years ago today from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was 59. He did not drink or smoke and seemed to live a life in generally good health. His illness and death caught the family off guard.
Cancer does that. It hides from us; it steals from us. I reflect on how much his cancer took away from my family. His grandchildren, all graduated from college now, lived their life without his presence. His friends, neighbors, co-workers, customers, lived their lives void of the help, wisdom, and passion that he had to share.
The anniversary of his death stirred me to visit the NIH (National Institutes of Heath) PubMed website and type “hyperthermia” and “non-Hodgkins lymphoma” into the search bar. Two studies popped up, showing positive clinical response treating with hyperthermia back in 1996. study 1study 2
I was surprised at the result. Part of me reflected, “maybe the doctors could have done more,” or “did I miss an opportunity to find a better treatment.” I take a bit of solace that in 1992, our “great age of information” was still six years away. Google search did not exist.
Now, there is certainly no excuse to be uninformed. If you, your family member or friend, have cancer, search “hyperthermia cancer.” You don’t have to be an advocate, just be informed. Find out what the research says about how hyperthermia benefits cancer therapies. If you have your own story about hyperthermia, please share it.
Surviving cancer is not just about you. It is about those of us left behind.
Our immune system has mechanisms in place for detecting and destroying cancer cells. A form of a triggered self-destruct instruction set that tells the cell to stop duplicating and disassemble itself into reusable components.
So, if we know the body can fight off disease and infection, why does it allow cancer cells to survive and grow?
The simplest explanation is that the immune system does not see these rogue cells. The cancerous tumor uses the biological equivalent of a Jedi mind trick to mask themselves from the immune system. “These are not the cancer cells you are looking for.” The culprit, according to the researchers at National Jewish Health, is a lipid secreted by the cancer tumor called LPA (lsyophosphatidic acid). LPA binds to receptors in cancer-killing T cells and makes the tumor invisible.
What if we could make all cancer cells visible to the body’s immune system?
That is what researchers want to do, and they may have found a solution in hyperthermia. It has been shown that when tumor cells are heated up to “fever temperature” (around 41-43˚ C) using hyperthermia, the tumor cells essentially light up to the body’s anti-tumor immune response. It is also believed that once a specific type of cancer cell is identified to the immune system, that information is telegraphed through the body revealing and attacking those cancer cells growing elsewhere. So treating cancer in one part of the body may trigger an immune response everywhere.
Early Evidence Shows Positive Data for Hyperthermia Drug
It may not be nano-robots yet, but hyperthermia triggered smart release drugs are here to stay. Celsion, the maker of the chemotherapy drug ThermoDox, announced data from its Phase 2 DIGNITY trial for recurrent chest wall (RCW) breast cancer. The early results, available from their recent press release, show that every patient in the trial experienced a clinical benefit.
ThermoDox is one of several heat-activated nanoparticle liposomal encapsulated drugs arriving on the market. Like traditional chemotherapy, the encapsulated drug is delivered through the bloodstream to all parts of the body. The difference is that the drug is only released when it reaches the tumor and nowhere else. It does this using a hyperthermic response mechanism. Patients receive localized hyperthermia treatments to heat the tumor to 42˚C (108˚F). The hyperthermia treatment begins to shrink and sensitizes the tumor to chemotherapy. When the drug reaches the “thermal zone” (40˚C or higher), it opens up the encapsulation releasing the chemo on target.
Doing this not only makes sure that enough therapeutic drug gets delivered to the cancer tumor, but also protects the rest of the body from the harmful side effects of traditional chemotherapy delivery. The remainder of the unused drugs gets flushed through the body naturally. I have linked the Celsion webpage that has a great video demonstrating the process.
At its annual scientific meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, June 24-26, 2015, the European Society of Hyperthermic Oncology (ESHO) bestowed its highest honor, the 30th annual ESHO-Pyrexar Award, on Jan Vrba, Ph.D. Dr. Vrba is Professor and Chairman, Department of Electromagnetic Fields, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University (CTU), Prague. The ESHO-Pyrexar Award is awarded annually for outstanding contributions to hyperthermic oncology, education, and scientific achievement. Prof. Vrba received his Ph.D. in Communications Technology from the CTU in 1976. He rose through the academic ranks to become a full professor and department chairman in 1993, the position he still holds. He has held many prestigious academic appointments at the CTU, including membership on the Scientific Board 1994-97, serving as Vice-Rector from 1994-97 and as Chancellor from 2000-2002.
Prof. Vrba’s research efforts have concentrated on the interaction between electromagnetic fields and biological systems, most notably the medical application of microwaves, specifically the design of microwave applicators for inducing hyperthermia for cancer treatment. Prof. Vrba has published well over 100 scientific papers.
An indication of the respect held by his scientific colleagues is that Prof. Vrba has been the Congress Chairman of a number of prominent international scientific meetings including the Annual Meeting of ESHO in Prague in 2007; the Progress in Electromagnetic Research Symposium (PIERS) in Prague in 2007; the Microwave and Radioelectronics Week (MAREW) in Prague in 2008; the Int. Symp. on Microwave & Optical Technology (ISMOT) in Prague in 2011 and again the PIERS meeting in Prague to be held July 5-10, 2015. The PIERS meeting will attract over 2,000 attendees.
According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all primary cancers. 94% of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis – only 6% will survive more than five years.
As you may know, June 23rd is National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day. In preparation, I contacted Dr. Curt Heese from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia and asked to tell us his experience treating this disease.
Q: Can hyperthermia play a role in the treatment of pancreatic cancer? A: Certainly, pancreatic cancer can be very difficult to treat, and having hyperthermia as a way to potentially improve, while not significantly increasing side effects, is a great advantage for patients.
Q: I know you are using hyperthermia at CTCA, what has been your experience? A: We’ve seen some wonderful responses to the therapy, but one case does stand out. A patient with locally advanced pancreatic cancer was receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy in preparation for surgery, and deep-tissue hyperthermia was being given immediately before each chemotherapy session in the hopes of helping achieve a stronger response, thereby increasing resectability.
Q: So, your goal is a course of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before attempting to remove it surgically. And hyperthermia is added to help shrink the tumor and make the tumor more sensitive to the chemo. What was the result in this case? A: At surgery, they found not just a reduction in tumor burden but a complete pathologic response with no tumor left when the tissue was examined under a microscope. Although we expect size reduction from chemotherapy, chemotherapy alone would not be expected to achieve a complete response. We were thrilled for the patient, and it cemented our belief that hyperthermia can enhance treatment in many types of cancer.
I want to thank Dr. Heese for his comments. I dug into the archives and found an older video clip of Dr. Heese explaining the hyperthermia treatment process. Worth a quick view.
Just published, a clinical review of 38 studies comparing clinical outcomes with and without hyperthermia. Spoiler Alert, chances of complete response (no more cancer) is increased by an average of 35% when hyperthermia was added to the treatment protocol. The studies compared included cancers of the breast, cervix, head/neck, rectum, bladder, esophagus, lung, plus superficial tumors, and melanoma. The full abstract is printed below, with links to the complete published report.
Hyperthermia, one of the oldest forms of cancer treatment, involves selective heating of tumor tissues to temperatures ranging between 39 and 45°C. Recent developments based on the thermoradiobiological rationale of hyperthermia indicate it to be a potent radio- and chemosensitizer. This has been further corroborated through positive clinical outcomes in various tumor sites using thermoradiotherapy or thermoradiochemotherapy approaches. Moreover, being devoid of any additional significant toxicity, hyperthermia has been safely used with low or moderate doses of reirradiation for retreatment of previously treated and recurrent tumors, resulting in significant tumor regression. Recent in vitro and in vivo studies also indicate a unique immunomodulating prospect of hyperthermia, especially when combined with radiotherapy. Also, the technological advances over the last decade both in hardware and software have led to potent and even safer loco-regional hyperthermia treatment delivery, thermal treatment planning, thermal dose monitoring through noninvasive thermometry, and online adaptive temperature modulation. The review summarizes the outcomes from various clinical studies (both randomized and nonrandomized) where hyperthermia is used as a thermal sensitizer of radiotherapy and-/or chemotherapy in various solid tumors and presents an overview of the progresses in loco-regional hyperthermia. These recent developments, supported by positive clinical outcomes, should merit hyperthermia to be incorporated in the therapeutic armamentarium as a safe and an effective addendum to the existing oncological treatment modalities.
“All over the map” is an American idiom for being off-topic or on a tangent. Just the opposite is true for the work we are doing here at Pyrexar Medical. Our map shows a growing number of well-respected Universities, Hospitals, and Cancer Centers, adopting hyperthermia in their cancer treatment program. Clinicians and researchers continue to publish studies demonstrating the benefit of hyperthermia when added to existing treatment protocols.
You can see for yourself by visiting our Treatment Locations page on the website. Zoom into your target location and find out where hyperthermia treatments are being offered in your area. Click the pin and find out a little bit about the facility. With your help, we will continue to add new flags every day. Each pin represents the possibility of a new life saved by the oncology doctors and treatment staff of cancer centers around the world.
Please share our message with your social connections. PYREXAR Hyperthermia, making a difference in Cancer Care.
Meet Sam Cervantes. Sam is a radiation therapist RT(t) at the Tacoma Valley Radiation Oncology Center in Western Washington. The TVROC is a regional network of treatment centers made up of five locations around the Puget Sound. Jackson Hall Medical Center in Tacoma, WA; St. Joseph Medical Pavilion, also in Tacoma; Dr. Richard C. Ostenson Cancer Center in Puyallup; Jane Thompson Russell Cancer Care Center in Gig Harbor and Capital Medical Center in Olympia.
Sam runs the Hyperthermia equipment in the oncology department. Originally from Florida, she has been living in Washington State for the past three years. She tells us they typically use the PYREXAR BSD-500 Superficial Hyperthermia System to treat Recurrent Chest Wall tumors (breast cancer) and Head & Neck tumors in conjunction with radiotherapy. Typically, each radiation session is accompanied by a 45-minute treatment of hyperthermia. “We bring the treatment area up to our target temperature of 42˚F and hold that temperature. The results are great”.
One system is transported to each of the five treatment centers to share. This makes the system very affordable and increases access to superior care. During our visit, we found everyone in the TVROC to be high quality, dedicated professionals who care deeply about their patient's health. And did I mention great results! To learn more about the clinical studies on treating RCW breast cancer and Head & Neck cancers using hyperthermia, click the links.