Modern radiation oncology techniques offer superb ways for treating cancer but their implementation is really challenging and requires quality control procedures that do not fall in the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
Having spent more than 12 years as a radiotherapy medical physicist, Dr. Evangelos Pappas, experienced several sleepless nights dealing with emotional strain before delivering demanding Radiosurgery treatments to his patients. Radiotherapy accidents do happen and have dramatic effects on cancer patients. The clear need for personalized, safe and efficient quality assurance in radiation oncology was more than evident.
Dr Pappas’ involvement with radiation oncology was not only clinical. From 1999, when he started his Ph.D., until today, he is constantly involved in research projects. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Medical Physics at the Technical University of Athens and a research associate at UT Health San Antonio, MD Anderson Cancer Center. “The loss of both of my parents from cancer and my background”, described briefly above, “motivated me to stop just conducting research for publishing scientific papers. An innovative solution that would result in a safer and more effective radiosurgery treatment needed to be developed and presented not only in papers but also in the market to support cancer patients’ treatments.”
RTsafe developed and introduced for the first time ever to the market an innovative technology offering personalized quality control in radiosurgery and radiotherapy applications. The treatment of each separate brain tumor patient can be first simulated, tested in practice, evaluated, fine-tuned and finally approved and implemented to the patient safely and efficiently by using RTsafe’s patient-specific Quality Assurance methodology. The ultimate motivation to keep working, creating and innovating, came in 2015 when the first living patient experienced this treatment. A European department of radiotherapy used RTsafe’s ‘Pseudo-Patient’TM. A real woman’s head was built and simulated so that her doctor could firstly test and then implement the treatment to her. Nowadays, because of RTsafe the health of brain tumor patients across Europe, USA, Argentina and soon, the rest of the world is improving dramatically. “This fact puts a certain spring in our step and a certain smile on our face“, says Evangelos Pappas, Founder & Member of the Scientific Board at RTsafe.
Meaningful companies are built upon a strong timeless vision
The core team consists of research associates working together for 20 years. Currently consisted of 17 conscientious and committed personalities, full of energy and capacity building, RTsafe is becoming a game-changing startup in radiation oncology. “From celebrating the big achievements to savoring the little things, we all share the same values for improving cancer patients lives. Our vision is that every single patient will be given the best chance of curing his cancer and reducing all side effects. We are working hard to constantly improve our technology so that this vision becomes a reality.”
Back in 2014 and during the economic crisis, it was really challenging for a scientific team to build a start-up company in Greece with limited business know-how and financial resources. The Hellenic Initiative and the Libra group supported their vision with the initial resources (mentoring and capital). One year later, RTsafe was incorporated and won the 1st prize of the MITEF Greece Startup Competition 2015.
“This award gave us accreditation, prepared us to start seeking funds and provided excellent mentoring and networking opportunities that really boosted our reputation” explains Evangelos. Several publications verified RTsafe’s revolutionizing product and their personalized Quality Assurance concept penetrated the market. But the most inspiring benchmark is the significant rise in the number of end users that are adopting RTsafe’s solutions globally.
In the growth stage, giving back is a strong motivation
RTsafe is still in the early stages of development. The company just launched its US operations with offices in San Antonio Texas and a business development center in NYC, while the team currently evaluates new deals with distributors. But giving back to the community is a significant motivation for all members as their hard work makes a difference beyond profitability, creates wider reaching impact and influences social causes. Following Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s donation of new high-end radiotherapy delivery machines (linear accelerators) to Greek public hospitals, RTsafe will actively support this amazing initiative and provide its services and products for free so that medical device operators can practice on RTsafe’s Pseudo-Patient’TM before treating real patients with safety and efficiency. Moreover, determined to make lasting, powerful and impactful enhancements “we decided to offer our products and services to all children in Greece having brain radiotherapy/radiosurgery and help as much as we can to improve their lives.”
RTsafe is currently focusing on forming strategic partnerships with hospitals and other stakeholders. There is a research collaboration agreement with the NY University Langone Medical Center as an official partner while UT Health San Antonio, MD Anderson Cancer Center has become a strategic partner. UCLA recently published a video describing RTsafe as the best solution that exists in the market for commissioning periodic and personalized quality assurance. Thomas Jefferson University used RTsafe’s services in order to evaluate and test a modern radiosurgery technology before treating one of the first patients in the USA. A large number of other well-known and less famous radiotherapy departments in Greece, Europe, USA, Argentina and South Africa have become RTsafe’s customers and end users. Finally, companies like Brainlab and ELEKTA validate the safety and efficiency of their products, hardware, and software, by using RTsafe’s products.