Quiremspheres, that were developed by the University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht, The Netherlands, to be used in a new treatment for liver cancer, have received the European CE mark for quality and safety. The treatment is being marketed by Quirem Medical, a spin-off company of the UMC Utrecht.
A press release from the company states that receiving the CE mark implies that hospitals in Europe can now start using radioembolization using radioactive holmium microspheres to attack liver tumours. The procedure involves injecting radioactive beads into the hepatic artery, which then join the blood flow and become trapped in the tiniest blood vessels, located in and around the liver tumours. They therefore emit their radiation close to the tumour.
“We consider our holmium microspheres as ‘the next generation of microspheres,’” says Frank Nijsen, founder of Quirem. “Treating liver tumours with yttrium microspheres is already a proven and valued cancer therapy using radioembolization. The new holmium microspheres constitute the next step in the development of this technology. Because they show up on MRI scans and SPECT-CT, these microspheres can be tracked, allowing customised treatment for each individual patient. Now that we have been awarded CE marking, patients all over Europe can benefit.”
The UMC Utrecht has been working for fifteen years to develop this innovative treatment modality. For the last six years, patients with liver tumours have been undergoing the treatment in a scientific setting. The spin-off company, Quirem Medical, was founded in 2013 to make the treatment available also to patients outside the UMC Utrecht. “The CE marking reflects our ambition to make our technology available to people around the world,” Jan Sigger, CEO of Quirem Medical, points out. “We can now work to further develop this holmium treatment together with our clinical partners.”
The research group at UMC Utrecht in charge of the project will work closely with Quirem Medical to adapt the new treatment for treating tumours in other organs as well. This year, research will start on the use of holmium microspheres to treat head and neck tumours. For that application, too, the unique image guidance with MRI introduces possibilities for closely monitoring the localised treatment of tumours and optimising it as needed.
“I expect great things from this holmium therapy,” says Maurice van den Bosch, an interventional radiologist at the UMC Utrecht. He was closely involved in the development of this new treatment. “Patients with liver tumours will benefit, and I hope that we will be able to treat patients with other tumours more effectively in the future as well.”