An Irvine-based company says it is closer to making a pioneering X-ray system for the next generation of cancer treatments.
Lumitron Technologies Inc. in February said the technology, called HyperView EBCS (Extremely Bright Compton Source), has successfully generated electron beams that for the first time enabled electron Flash radiotherapy (FLASH-RT).
HyperView “is the most significant change in clinical and industrial X-ray imaging in over 125 years and will enable revolutionary new capabilities for medical imaging, therapy, materials detection, and other applications across multiple industries,” the company declared in its February statement.
“They’re still using a flashlight to find a disease when they could be using a laser,” Lumitron Chief Technical Officer Dr. Chris Barty told the Business Journal when asked about current X-ray machines.
“If we do it correctly, you will never need to remove a breast or a prostate again. We will find the disease before it’s a problem. It’s really changing human health—that’s a huge goal.”
Lumitron, which was founded in 2017, is about to commence a new funding round to raise $25 million to $40 million, which would give the company a valuation around $300 million, Barty said.
Barty, a professor of physics and astronomy at University of California, Irvine, previously was CTO at the National Ignition Facility Directorate at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he spent 17 years inventing the core technologies upon which Lumitron’s system are based.
The Ignition Facility in December received national acclaim for fusion ignition, a major scientific breakthrough that may pave the way for clean energy.
Comparable in size to an MRI or CT instrument, the HyperView system is designed to collide a beam of near-light-speed electrons with a laser beam to produce high-energy X-ray beams.
The company says these beams will enable medical imaging at resolutions 1,000 times higher and/or doses 100 times lower than conventional X-rays, with “dramatically shorter imaging times than conventional MRI of soft tissues.”
“The system will provide up to a thousand times improvement in image detail, far lower X-ray dose and the ability to treat simultaneously at the same cellular level, which is set to transform the landscape for both patients and practitioners,” Co-founder and Executive Maurie Stang said.
Stang is the principal of Gryphon Capital Pty Ltd., an Australian investor in emerging healthcare related entities and is currently chairman of Nanosonics Ltd. (ASX:NAN), which has a $1 billion market cap.
The technology will enable the first application of Phase Contrast Imaging outside of billion-dollar, large-scale synchrotron facilities and will allow practitioners to image down to a cellular level at the point of care, in a hospital or clinic.
The company is on two tracks. The first path is to start selling the X-ray machines within a couple of years. Barty envisions making 100 machines annually at its facilities near UCI, saying that there are about 150,000 CT and MRI machines worldwide that will eventually need to be replaced.
“We outperform every one of those,” he said. “We really want to get this into the hands of people finding and treating diseases on a commercial basis.”
The second path is to prove if the machine can also treat cancer; trials on brain cancer are scheduled to begin in May.
“We see the cancer with X-rays and then treat it without moving the patient. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to treat it without moving the patient. From an oncologist’s perspective, it’s a game changer.”