What is the impact of engineers in Cosylab?
They are the largest employee group! Cosylab employs more than 250 people globally, most of which are engineers with expertise in control systems, medical software and electronics development. We have more than 200 employees with a STEM degree. We are proud to have our headquarters in Slovenia with subsidiaries in the US, China, Switzerland, Sweden and Japan.
What is your job description in Cosylab, and for what technical market do you personally cover?
Until my maternity leave, I worked on multiple projects in Cosylab, all of them connected to cancer treatments. I was the project manager for both TreatOrAdapt and the integration of TreatmentOne at a particle therapy facility and a developer and technical consultant on a few other medical projects.
The TreatOrAdapt system is a futuristic project in the field of radiotherapy. Its main purpose is to help doctors decide whether the treatment plan for the next radiation session needs to be updated due to changes in the patient’s body or not.
TreatmentOne is Cosylab’s treatment control system (TCS). Namely, a critical part of every PT centre is its TCS, the software that synchronises all the devices’ operation for particle therapies. Currently, PT centre equipment vendors develop their own custom TCS, which works only with their equipment, is of limited configurability, is difficult adjust, and relatively expensive.
We have developed our TCS (TreatmentOne) as an off-the-shelf product that is universal. Our solution is easily configurable and available without lead times. Overall, the TreatmentOne provides better cancer treatment efficacy, lower production and maintenance cost of the PT facility, and higher throughput of patients – resulting in more people being treated. With our integration of TreatmentOne into a specific machine setup at our client, we have also validated ease of configurability.
Can you tell us more about particle therapy and, specifically, the TreatOrAdapt system?
Besides chemotherapy and surgery, oncologists use radiotherapy with X-rays (photons) or particles (PT) to treat cancer. Radiotherapy (RT) machines irradiate tumours with photons or charged particles. Particle therapy (PT) is the type of irradiative treatment that is particularly useful in treating deep-seated tumours, for example, in the head or abdomen.
One of the advantages of PT over photon radiotherapy is that PT inflicts less collateral damage to the patient’s tissue that surrounds the tumour. A dose delivery system plays an essential role in further optimising the therapy process’s efficiency in a PT installation.
Patients who need radiation therapy don’t just get one-time irradiation but are treated in many sessions, mainly for two reasons. One is to give the healthy tissue time to recover. The other reason is that cancerous cells are not always sensitive to radiation – they need to be in the division phase for the radiation to have the desired impact and destroy them. In between single sessions of radiation, many things can change in the patient’s body – the patient can lose weight, the tumour (hopefully) shrinks, some vital organs can swell …
All these changes can cause the treatment plan from the previous sessions to become obsolete. As treatment planning is a complex and time-consuming task, doctors do not perform it for every session. Here is where TreatOrAdapt comes in. Its input is the plan from the previous session and the original and newest images. Utilising high-tech algorithms, TreatOrAdapt calculates whether a new treatment plan is required or not and informs the doctor about the results.