Santiago Velazquez, physicist Andalusian Health Service (SAS), has spent a decade working to relieve suffering and make the life easier for cancer patients. “We’ve managed to turn a tragedy in just a nightmare,” says the scientist, Medical Physics Service Hospital. Velazquez has created a system that can be used in any particle accelerator and radiotherapy can apply to damaged areas with such precision that only three sessions are enough to destroy cancer cells; compared to an average of 40 required in conventional therapy.
The device, called Exacradle, has been patented by the SAS and is in use since mid- 2012 at the Virgen del Rocío with a cure rate of 90 % in patients with small cell lung cancer. “A similar percentage to that of patients who undergo surgery, but hardly have been aware of the severity of their condition,” said Velazquez, who has created Anatomical Geometry, a spin-off in conjunction with the SAS, which patented the invention.
“A patient with lung cancer has three options: operated with the risk involved in the surgery, to open the thoracic to eradicate the tumor with conventional radiotherapy or choose our system that, through a series of preliminary tests, we can locate the exact location of the tumor and predict their motion during radiotherapy treatments. Our goal is to apply a much greater damage to diseased cells without harming healthy tissue. “Typically, no more than three sessions of 12 minutes each patient can be clean, without going through a surgery,” explains Santiago Velazquez, Seville 43, who has devised three additional patents related to this method.
“The surgeon uses a scalpel, while I use mathematics. Play with advantage, because the patient does not feel anything,” says the researcher, who proposed the project from the beginning to create something accessible to everyone, not just the elites. “I always wanted to innovate universalized health. We considered from the origin do something that was not elitist, that could be applied from the public health and also generate wealth in the environment. Something that is not easy, “said Velazquez, who has met with multinationals that have tried to buy the patent Exacradel for” put it in a drawer ” and continue to sell less effective and more expensive applications.
“In two and a half years we have treated fifty patients. 40 with lung cancer, 39 have been cured. But we have also treated people with adrenal metastases of colon, breast and liver. Patients whose life expectancy was three to six months and, after treatment have survived to 18 months and with a quite acceptable quality of life,” says oncologist Elena Montero, also the Hospital Virgen del Rocío, who works alongside Velázquez in applying this method.
“The Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) is a technique used for years in healing. They are shooting at a moving target, such as a tumor, a very toxic load without damage to other organs. William Tell, but instead of a block have a tumor and instead of a spring, an electron accelerator. What made Dr. Velazquez is invent a compatible device regardless of any accelerator – energy – use, most effective and comfortable for the patient, ” Dr. Montero synthesizes.
The method, besides being effective, it is more economical for the SAS operation, to which we must add that the Andalusian Health earns income by the patent. “Working with the Exacradle is much cheaper to go through a surgery. For free two technicians, an oncologist and a physicist are only needed while the surgery, operating room personnel also requires several days of hospitalization, “the physicist. This new patent, which have already acquired the Gregorio Marañón Hospital and Central Defence Gómez Ulla, both in Madrid, and the number of centers who are interested in Latin America, costs about 80,000 euros.
Although the majority of treated patients suffering from lung cancer, the method is also designed for other organs in the abdomen, spine, pelvis and extremities. “It is a system composed of three modules having multiple combinations: a support structure having a modulus of compression and other abdominal diaphragm,” says its inventor.
“Tumor cells tend to repair the damage radation produce. If the duration of the session is much longer, the cells are able to get repaired between blows. We have shortened both sessions we get are very effective and has been a technological challenge. It took about 12 minutes; compared to 30 or 60 using other systems,” said Velazquez, who registered his first patent in 1999 and is willing to investigate further.