Palo Alto, Calif.-based Varian Medical Systems Inc. has won the U.S. FDA’s nod for its Ethos therapy, an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven holistic solution that is aiming to transform cancer care. This solution is designed to deliver an entire adaptive treatment in a typical 15-minute slot and is intended to put the patient at the center of care, noted Chris Toth, president of Varian Oncology Systems. "This solution represents a new chapter in democratized cancer care,” Toth added.

The solution relies on adaptive intelligence, integrating advanced multimodality images and AI, with an eye toward enabling clinicians to treat more precisely. The company labeled Ethos therapy as intuitive, allowing its adoption in almost any clinic or hospital. Of note, no additional specialized staff or intensive new training is required.

Ethos therapy’s streamlined workflow is enabled by its AI-driven planning and contouring capabilities. The physician defines his or her clinical intent from predefined templates. As a result, an initial treatment plan is generated based on the physician's predefined clinical objectives. The treatment is adapted in response to changes in the patient's anatomy and the tumor's shape and position at the time of treatment.

In addition, it offers the use of multimodality images, as well as daily iterative cone-beam computed tomography images at the console. By providing an up-to-date view of the patient's anatomy, Ethos therapy provides clinicians with the confidence to make more informed adaptive treatment decisions. The solution is built on Varian's latest treatment delivery technology and provides fast imaging and treatment delivery without compromising quality.

The company heralded the solution at J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference last month. Toth noted that there already was a lot of buzz. “[I]t allows multi-modality imaging, all on a single platform at a price tag that is significantly less than alternative solutions with a lot more throughput,” he explained.

Strong reception

The company unveiled its solution last September as part of the American Society for Radiation Oncology annual meeting, During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Dow Wilson, Varian’s president and CEO, highlighted the excitement related to the product.

And the excitement appears to continue unabated. During the Jan. 29 first-quarter earnings call, Wilson expounded on his company’s progress with AI, machine learning and cloud solutions. “Since the launch of the artificial intelligence powered Ethos therapy system in September of 2019, reception and excitement for the platform has been extremely strong.”

Wilson noted that the company has received several orders for Ethos, which also has a CE mark. “Treatments at our first clinical site in Herlev Hospital, Denmark, continue to progress well,” he added. “While initial focus has been on bladder cancer, the team is preparing to start adaptive therapy for new disease sites in the pelvis.”

Matt Taylor with UBS pointed out that the company did well with Ethos from the outset and asked whether there would be a step-up in the coming period. “As you know, it got out of the gate late in Q4, launching in basically September of Q4,” Wilson explained. “Between Q4 and Q1, we've taken out 20 orders. Frankly, when we look at the ramp versus Halcyon, kind of right on. So … that looks pretty good.” He added that the company is bullish about Ethos.

When Anthony Petrone with Jefferies asked about performance in China, Wilson said the quarter was strong in that market. He added that when Ethos comes to that market, “we'll also have a strong position there.”

Overall, BTIG’s Marie Thibault found the quarterly results positive. “We remain enthusiastic about Varian’s short-term and long-term growth potential, pointing to top-line and margin expansion opportunities as well as the sustainability of underlying sales through installed base replacements and service contracts on hardware.”

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