World-leading research: ACRF Image X Institute

In 2014, thanks to the generosity of our donors, ACRF awarded $2.5 million to support three unique cancer imaging and targeted radiotherapy devices through the development of the ACRF Image X Institute.

These include an MRI-Linac, a real-time cancer imaging and targeted therapy system; the Nano-X, a smarter, smaller cancer radiotherapy system and a robotic imaging machine to advance patient connected imaging. 

MRI Linac, a powerful experimental cancer radiation therapy system, based at Liverpool Hospital, NSW

About ACRF Image X Institute

The ACRF Image X Institute, based in Sydney, is a world-leading research centre for basic and translational medical innovation. The work focuses on radiation oncology imaging and targeted radiotherapy systems.

The institute’s purpose is to create, share and apply scientific knowledge to improve health by building new technology for cancer imaging and targeted radiation therapy by:

  • Inventing and exploring new ideas that lead to scientific discoveries.
  • Applying key discoveries for real-world benefit through first-in-human clinical trials.
  • Translating successful clinical trial outcomes into widespread clinical practice to improve global health.

2019 Outcomes

In 2019, key outcomes reported by the ACRF Image X Institute include:

  • Clinical studies – 8 studies have been completed; 8 studies are currently recruiting subjects & 9 studies are under development.  A total of 14 sites are involved in Australia and NZ.
  • 24 Scientific publications 
  • Intellectual Property: 9 Patents filed with 13 license agreements.

Two articles were published by the popular science Physics World:

The first article was based around the question: how can we reduce the size, reliability and the room and equipment cost of radiotherapy? The answer is to gently rotate the patient rather than a 3-tonne complex and sensitive radiation source. This idea has led to the development of the Nano-X cancer radiotherapy system in partnership with the Prince of Wales Hospital. Dr Paul Liu, who is leading the development and research program for the Nano-X, was interviewed about this project.

In addition, Tess Reynolds’ Best in Physics work on her patient connected imaging project ‘ACROBEAT’ was highlighted by Physics World.

The prototype radiotherapy system combines a fixed vertical radiation beam with horizontal patient rotation. 

Leading through Unique Capabilities

ARTIS pheno training and installation of real-time control

The ARTIS pheno C-Arm is an advanced robotic imaging system, purchased with funding from the ACRF grant, and situated in the Hybrid Theatre of Sydney Imaging. Through a research agreement with Siemens Healthineers Image X is the only research group provided with real-time control of the operation of this imaging system. Two scientists from Siemens Healthineers in Germany visited to install the control addition and provide training. This installation will allow the experimental validation of methods developed by A/Prof Ricky O’Brien and Dr Tess Reynolds to adapt image acquisition to the patients’ cardiac and respiratory signals.

Outcomes enabled by ACRF Supporters

“I would especially like to thank the ACRF for its funding and support going forward, which is instrumental in enabling us to carry out our ground-breaking research and ensures we can work towards better outcomes for cancer patients.” says Paul Keall, Ph.D, a Professor and NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow Director at the ACRF Image X Institute

International Recognition

Professor Keall continues with a note of congratulations for his team.

“In 2019 we were able to congratulate two of our Higher Degree Research students on their awards. Ben Cooper whose PhD thesis is entitled, ‘The investigation of novel x-ray imaging technique in radiation oncology’.
It was fantastic that Dr Ben Cooper won the 2019 Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM) Better Healthcare Technology Foundation PhD award for his PhD thesis. Ben’s award in 2019 follows Brendan Whelan’s award in 2018 and Sean Pollock’s in 2017.”

“Ben did his PhD part-time, whilst working full time – he is now Chief Physicist at Canberra Hospital. I am also very proud of Fiona Hegi-Johnson who also graduated in 2019. Fiona Hegi-Johnson whose PhD thesis ‘Let there be light: Harnessing the Power of New Imaging Technologies to Improve Outcomes for Lung Cancer Radiotherapy Patients’, has subsequently obtained a Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Clinician Researcher Fellowship, a wonderful recognition of Fiona’s achievements and will enable her to carry out further research to improve cancer imaging, biology understanding and targeted treatments.”

“Our PhD students are carefully selected on their outstanding capabilities and it is rewarding Nicholas Hindley, a PhD student won a very highly competed and prestigious Fulbright Foreign Student Program and will spend part of next year at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, in addition to visiting other sites where machine learning and image reconstruction are strong themes.”

“Nicholas was successful in receiving a Cancer Research Network Postgraduate Conference Travel Grant. Nicholas also received the Most Outstanding Presentation Award at the MedPhys19 annual NSW/ACT medical physics conference, along with Natasha Morton who received the Postgraduate Award. It was great that Emily Hewson was selected for a Sydney Vital Scholar Award.”

“It is always gratifying when our staff are recognised and rewarded for their outstanding work and several early career researchers have established their leadership in their fields.”

“Paul Liu was awarded a 3-year Early Career Fellowship for ‘Upright radiotherapy for improved lung cancer treatment outcomes’ David Waddington was also awarded a 3-year early career fellowship ‘Personalising cancer radiation therapy via dynamic MRI-based adaptation to changing tumour anatomy and biology’. Paul and David were two of only four Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Fellowships awarded in 2019.”

“Our work at the Institute has been internationally recognised at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) with three invited talks (Paul Liu and myself), four oral presentations – all from PhD students Emily Hewson (x2), Nicholas Hindley and Natasha Morton, seven snap orals Andy Shieh, Marco Mueller, Paul Liu, Praise Lim, Owen Dillon, Tess Reynolds and Trang Nguyen. In addition, we had three e-posters, Samuel Blake, Kehuan Shi and Elisabeth Steiner.”

These incredible outcomes would not be possible without the generosity of our dedicated supporters. Thank you for enabling this incredible research to take place.

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