Dr. Fallone, world-renowned physicist

Edmonton region makes history with groundbreaking cancer treatment

Health and Life Sciences
Published On
February 3, 2023

On Friday, February 3, Alberta Health Services announced the first cancer patient will receive treatment with a new radiation therapy technology that was developed in the Edmonton region by local medtech company, MagnetTx Oncology Solutions Ltd. The inaugural patient will be treated on Wednesday, February 8, at the University of Alberta’s Cross Cancer Institute. The new technology will drastically improve the way cancer patients receive care – it is unlike anything else currently used for cancer treatment.  

MagnetTx was co-founded by two highly accomplished and world-renowned physicists – Professor Gino Fallone, a medical physicist certified in radiation oncology physics and Brad Murray, an accomplished clinical and academic medical physicist. The company has raised $20 million through public and private funding, including a grant from the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). It is looking to raise another $30 million in capital to support the manufacturing and distribution of more Aurora-RT machines and expand its international market presence.   

“This is a unique opportunity demonstrating private and public partnership improving healthcare outcomes. It’s incredible for Edmonton patients, and it’s special for Alberta,” says MagnetTx CEO, Mike Cogswell. “The way we pulled it off working with the University of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, and government programs… this truly is the poster child for bringing technology and start-up companies into the Edmonton region. It’s been a fabulous experience after working in Silicon Valley the past 25 years. To come to the Edmonton region and find it so accommodating and to do business at a fraction of the cost has been amazing.”  

The technology, LMR2000, received FDA approval as the Aurora-RT and is a one-of-a-kind, technologically advanced, and patented machine that merges an ideal .5T MRI to view the treatment site, with a linear accelerator (LINAC) to perform radiation therapy treatments.  

 Aurora-RT offers a lot of advantages that make it a superior technology for treating cancer patients. 

 Large open-air bore  

  • The spacious design provides patients with space that is two times larger than other LINAC machines, making it much less claustrophobic.  
  • The spacious design provides the ability to move the patient around – saving valuable time. This efficiency means doctors can treat more patients daily.  
  • Also allows for more effective treatment of peripheral tumours.   

  Key clinical features advantages   

  • Aurora-RT can treat breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and liver tumours- cancers that cannot be effectively treated with other current technologies. 
  • Patients need fewer treatments because the precision of Aurora-RT allows for stronger doses of radiation to the target location.  
  • Patients that might have needed 30 sessions of radiation with other LINAC machines, may now only need five rounds with Aurora-RT.  
  • The patented design eliminates the electron return effect (ERE), which can result in unwanted radiation to healthy tissue within other types of radiation therapy.  
  • This allows hospitals and clinics to use a standard treatment planning software (TPS). Traditionally more expensive custom software was needed to account for ERE risks. 
  • Aurora-RT significantly reduces installation costs in two ways – it does not use liquid helium and helium venting systems and it’s smaller. With traditional machines, installation is cumbersome and sometimes required that the roof of a building was taken off. 

Use of existing software 

  •  Aurora-RT can utilize standard department workflow and existing software.  
  • Doctors can clearly visualize soft tissues in real-time and watch as things move.  
  • This allows them to pause and adjust the target location and radiation dose to effectively target tumours without damaging healthy tissues.  
  • This is significantly improving patient outcomes – results in a recent prostate study showed a 50% reduction in toxicity compared to other modes of radiation therapy. 

Artificial Intelligence  

  • MagnetTx integrates an artificial intelligence (AI) prediction model for Aurora-RT, allowing the data to work smarter to speed up contouring of organs and structures.  
  • The software is distributed allowing clinicians to view images from anywhere and on any device.  
  • This streamlined process means shorter wait times and treatment durations for patients.  

This is a huge advantage of Aurora-RT and MagnetTx has been able to leverage the incredible expertise that the Edmonton region has in artificial intelligence. The University of Alberta is ranked 3rd globally in AI research and the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), which is located in Edmonton, is one of three national centres of excellence for AI research in Canada as part of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy. Amii is working with industry partners to commercialize that research and provide industry solutions that incorporate AI.  


Alberta Cancer Foundation Christy Holtby

Alberta Cancer Foundation VP Philanthropy, Christy Holtby

Aurora-RT is outperforming comparative technologies which are only able to treat between 8-12 patients daily – Aurora-RT is projected to treat between 25-30. The Edmonton Metropolitan Region is the first place in the world where doctors are treating cancer patients with this advanced innovation in radiotherapy.    

Organizations around the world have expressed interest in Aurora-RT. So far, MagnetTx has received orders across North America, China, and South Korea. The Northern Lights clinical trial has also launched, which will drive clinical outcomes for the first wave of patients. 

One of the advantages that MagnetTx has in being located in the Edmonton region are the number of PhD.’s and master’s level engineers coming out of the University of Alberta. Alberta graduates more engineers than any other province – and by a large margin. Mike also remarks there’s a reason so many graduates choose to stay in the region after graduating. “It’s a vibrant city, and there is lots to do. I’m a huge fan.”  

Mike emphasizes that direct investment will advance MagnetTx’s mission to seamlessly treat many more cancer patients. 

“This is noble work,” says Mike, “we are helping people with a terrible disease that affects 50%  of the population. Everybody knows somebody who’s had cancer and has been impacted. MagnetTx and Alberta Health Services are working hard every day to make a difference.” 

Edmonton Global