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$2M grant puts Dartmouth's DoseOptics on the fast track

Oct 24, 2016   |   by Meghan Pierce   |   NH Union Leader

Dose Optics Linear Accelerator
Lebanon-based startup DoseOptics is developing technology capable of real-time imaging of radiation therapy to cancer patients during treatment.

A $2 million grant is taking a Dartmouth-born startup to the next level, says Brian Pogue, a professor at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth.

Pogue is president and a founder of DoseOptics LLC, a year-old company working to develop technology capable of real-time imaging of radiation therapy to cancer patients during treatment.

The company was founded through a collaboration between the Thayer School of Engineering and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

DoseOptics recently received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health. A grant totaling more than $1.4 million awarded to DoseOptics in August 2015 basically got the company off the ground, Pogue said.

The new $2 million grant is what DoseOptics needed to take the company to the next level to fund the production of the camera systems.

"The goal is to produce cameras that are custom made to capture photographs or video of the radiation process," Pogue said.

Cancer patients receiving radiation treatment often get the treatment 30 to 40 days in a row, often at busy radiation treatment facilities that may see up to 100 radiation therapy patients a day. That means there's a good chance at least once a day the radiation will miss its target, Pogue said.

"Data on incidence rates is sparse," Pogue said. "It's sort of like data on surgical errors. It sort of doesn't get reported, and it's not something hospitals are eager to announce."

Radiation technicians are incredibly precise in targeting cancer cells and do so within three millimeter accuracy, Pogue said. However, once the technician sets up a patient and the machine, they must leave the room before commencing the treatment, which up until now has been unverifiable in real time.

"Up to this point we've just been working with images after the fact," Pogue said. "Now that we've got this funding we can create these systems that we can install in the celling of radiation oncology facilities."

Early next year, cameras for the FDA testing will be installed at three alpha sites — Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis.

DoseOptics will also be able to sell the camera systems to a handful of research facilities for research purposes while waiting for FDA approval.

DoseOptics was founded Pogue as well as Thayer alumni William Ware, who is CEO, and Thayer professor Scott Davis, managing member.

Former Thayer professor Venkat Krishnaswamy is the vice president of technology. The company is located at the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center in Centera Park in Lebanon.

The Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network has been a big part of that. DoseOptics worked closely with the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network to start the company and exclusively license the technology from the college to continue the commercial prototyping of radiation dose imaging.

DoseOptics employs four full-time employees and two part-time employees but plans to add three more full-time workers.

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