Ben Franklin


Applied Computational Technologies in Final Prototype Testing of Radiation Dose Calculation Engine

In 2010, an estimated 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer—and approximately 65 percent of those cancer victims will receive some form of radiation therapy.

Cancer treatment can be daunting. Applied Computational Technologies (ACT) works to make this process easier for both patients and radiation oncology professionals. ACT’s software tool, ProACTive, helps medical professionals determine how best to plan a course of treatment prescribed for a patient.

Applied Computational Technologies was founded in 2003 by Jay McClatchey and Andy Holland. The partners combined their backgrounds in business, technology and engineering to develop ProACTive, a sophisticated software tool that will dramatically improve the radiation oncologist’s ability to determine and implement the best course of therapy for cancer patients.

Essentially, ProACTive is a dose calculation engine that enables treatment planning for adaptive radiotherapy and more accurate, higher-dose therapy that may require a lesser number of treatments. It reduces the margin for error and ensures proper dosage.

Support Leads to Expansion

Bolstered by support from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central/Northern Pennsylvania (BFTP/CNP), ACT has expanded greatly over the past seven years. BFTP/CNP invested three times in Applied Computational Technologies, once in 2006, and again in 2007 and 2009 for a total of $500,000. Additionally, ACT won BFTP’s Business Plan contest in 2006, which earned it a $35,000 prize. Funds from BFTP/CNP have allowed ACT to propel their software forward.

“With support and investments from BFTP/CNP, we have been able to take our business further,” says Kathy Blum, CEO of ACT. “We talk regularly and always appreciate their cogent counsel, resources and expertise.”

Current radiation treatment planning software is a compromise between speed and accuracy, which imposes some serious limits on the treatment process. ACT’s ProACTive software eliminates the “accuracy versus speed” trade-off that exists with current methods. In recent testing, ProACTive accurately calculated a treatment planning dose more than 170 times faster than the current gold standard for accuracy in treatment planning.

The end goal is to position the company to sell its intellectual property and software to a radiation treatment system provider, but the immediate goals are to successfully complete all the rigorous, clinically based testing and verification.

Filling a Need

Kathy Blum, who joined ACT as CEO in 2008, says she saw the advantage that ACT technology presents in the outcome of radiation treatment.

“Currently, we are in the final stages of prototype testing and completing this technology,” says Blum. “ProACTive will mean a big improvement in the accuracy of radiation for cancer treatment, thus improving the quality of treatment and the likelihood of impact to normal tissue.”

In the past two years, ACT has secured significant private investment through BlueTree Allied Angels of Pittsburgh and several other angel investors. ACT’s clinical testing is ongoing, and the next steps are promising.

“We expect that we will have our software licensed to a manufacturer on an exclusive basis within a year,” says Blum. “We are very excited to continue bringing ProACTive to market because it will make a difference for those undergoing radiation treatment. Support from BFTP over the years has been invaluable as we look to finish our clinical testing and add value to the cancer treatment process.”

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This article was featured in
Keynotes May, 2010
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