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Robotic Radiosurgery: Long R&D Road Pays Off

It took years for Accuray Inc. to develop its flagship CyberKnife system, but the lengthy path to development was worth the wait.

More than 100,000 patients have been treated with the Cyberknife system.
It took years for Accuray Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA) to develop its flagship CyberKnife system, but the lengthy path to development was worth the wait. The company’s robotic radiosurgery system was approved in 1999 and has since treated more than 100,000 patients worldwide. Radiosurgery emerged decades ago as a treatment for brain tumors, but Accuray propelled the method much further by applying it to the entire body.
 
The CyberKnife system, which can treat small- to medium-sized tumors anywhere in the body, tracks tumors in real time using continual image guidance and computer-controlled robotic mobility. Instead of using surgery to remove a tumor, the device noninvasively ablates it with a precise and high dose of radiation. Each year the company releases upgraded products that allow the CyberKnife to provide patients with more treatment options. Current driving markets for the product are within the spine, lung, and prostate. The U. S. market is Accuray’s largest, but growth has made the European market the strongest over the past year and a half. Last year, the company reported $221.6 million in revenue and grew while decreasing operating expenses. In March 2011 Accuray positioned itself to become a leader in radiation oncology by signing a definitive agreement to acquire competitor TomoTherapy (Madison, WI).
 
This pie chart shows the global installed base of the Accuray and TomoTherapy systems postacquisition.
The $277 million strategic acquisition is expected to significantly

Check out MX's Q&A with Accuray CEO Euan Thomson.

boost Accuray’s global presence. The companies offer complementary technologies that treat two different patient populations and expand treatment options—radiosurgery (Accuray) and radiation therapy (TomoTherapy). “This acquisition will create a company that can provide patients with radiation treatments tailored to their specific needs, from high-precision radiosurgery to image-guided, intensity-modulated radiation therapy,” says Euan Thomson, PhD, president and CEO of Accuray. Last year, TomoTherapy generated $195 million in revenue. The combined entity would have an installed product base of more than 550 units in 32 countries and more than 1100 employees. The anticipated closing timeframe for the acquisition is June or July 2011.
 
Focus Going Forward
  • Increase global presence with acquisition of TomoTherapy.
  • Reduce overall operating expenses across Accuray and TomoTherapy by $25 million.
  • Make improvements to TomoTherapy system via engineering talent.

Highlights

  • March 2011: Signs agreement to acquire TomoTherapy for $277 million.
  • January 2011: Named to the premier tier-listing NASDAQ Global Select Market.
  • November 2010: CyberKnife VSI System receives Minnie Award for best new radiology device.
Since September 2011, 222 CyberKnife systems have been installed worldwide.

Leadership

  • Euan Thomson, PhD, president and CEO
  • Derek Bertocci, senior vice president and CFO
  • Chris Raanes, senior vice president and COO
  • Eric Pauwels, senior vice president and chief marketing officer
  • Darren Milliken, senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary
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