Varian's Calypso Makes Headway


Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (VAR) announced that clinicians at a leading cancer center in Lisbon used its tumor tracking system, Calypso Anchored Beacon for Lung, for the first time during radiosurgery treatment. 'Champalimaud Center for the Unknown' (CCU) used the new tumor tracking system to treat 3 patients with stage 1 non-small-cell lung cancer.

Varian’s Calypso is a tracking and monitoring device that allows physicians to locate the exact position of the cancerous tumor during radiotherapy treatment sessions in real-time, without harming the adjacent healthy tissues. The Calypso Anchored Beacon for Lung has received the CE Mark approval and is available for sale in the European Union (EU) and Australia. However, it is still under clinical investigation in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Calypso Beacons for Prostate and Surface Beacons have been cleared for sale in the U.S., EU, Australia and some other nations. There are more than 100 Calypso installations globally, with more than 15,000 patients worldwide, who have been treated using the system.

Urology, a medical journal, had published a promising clinical study entitled “Assessing the Impact of Margin Reduction” in 2010, asserting that the Calypso device is capable of reducing majority of treatment-related side effects during radiotherapy treatments for prostate cancer.

Doctors at CCU use the implantable Calypso lung transponders along with VAR’s TrueBeam medical linear accelerator to provide advanced stereotactic radiosurgery treatments. They also use Calypso surface transponders to track movement in thoracic and abdominal tumors that are treated using high-dose stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (:SABR).

In September, Varian had announced the installation of its latest Edge Radiosurgery Suite at CCU. The hospital plans to begin patient treatment using the suite, with effect from November this year. The clinic has also introduced a new approach for hypo-fractionated prostate cancer treatments for patients with low- and intermediate-risk tumors. Although this new approach is still under clinical trial, doctors are already hopeful based on the preliminary results.

Varian is poised to increase its global market share in the radiation oncology market as international markets are still under-equipped to address the growing incidence of cancer. Recently, the company collaborated with IMRIS Inc., a global leader in providing image-guided therapy solutions, to develop a novel magnetic resonance (MR)-guided radiation therapy platform for cancer treatment.

The Varian stock currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). While we choose to remain on the sidelines regarding VAR, better-placed medical instruments stocks such as Natus Medical (BABY), carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), as well as Luminex (LMNX) and Given Imaging (GIVN), both carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), are worth a look at the moment.

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