A dose of gamma rays from Elekta won't turn you into the
Incredible Hulk, but it could make you feel like him. The
company manufactures the Gamma Knife -- which isn't a knife at
all but a chamber that delivers radiation therapy
to treat tumors and cancer in the brain. The Gamma Knife was
invented in 1968 by Elekta's founder, Dr. Lars Leksell, the
father of radiosurgery. Elekta manufactures other non-invasive
treatment systems, such as image-guided radiation therapy (IRGT)
and particle therapy, used to treat cancer elsewhere in the body.
Elekta was founded in 1972. Its products are used in more than
5,000 hospitals around the world.
Elekta maintains its presence in the radiology
and oncology fields by introducing its established treatment
systems to new geographical segments, such as Asia and Eastern
Europe. Its three primary geographical areas of focus are: North
and South America; Europe, Middle East, Africa; and Asia/Pacific.
In 2012, for example, the company strengthened its position in
Brazil by acquiring Radon Ltda. group, Brazil's leading linear
accelerator (linac) service company.
The company's four divisions are Oncology, Neuroscience,
Software, and Services. Elekta's software division includes
electronic medical records (EMR), archiving, retrieval, and
management of data, tools to streamline clinical and business
operations, and treatment planning covering the spectrum of
radiation therapy, radiosurgery, and particle therapy techniques.
Elekta provides services such as remote clinical optimization,
education and training, and consulting, among others.
Elekta's software division intends to seek US customers who
are eligible for funding from President Obama's Health
Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH)
Act. The $19 billion plan allows the US health care industry
to upgrade to EMRs, which Elekta can administer.
The company grows its product offerings through new
development and selective acquisitions. In 2010 Elekta acquired
Resonant Medical, a Montreal-based company that added additional
non-invasive image guidance technology to Elekta's portfolio. The
new line of products allows oncologists to view soft tissue such as
breast tissue and the prostate.
Moving into a new therapeutic area after years of IT
growth, Elekta acquired Dutch radiotherapy firm Nucletron for
some €365 million ($500 million) in 2011. The purchase added
brachytherapy devices for treating cancer by implanting radioactive
seeds in tumor areas; it also expanded the company's presence in
the radiotherapy market as brachytherapy and external beam
radiation therapies are increasingly being used in tandem to treat
certain cancers. Nucletron's systems are used in about 1,000
medical facilities worldwide.
Elekta also collaborates with medical centers to educate
providers and patients about new cancer care delivery options. The
partnerships cover the spectrum of cancer treatment from planning
and delivery to workflow and connectivity to increase the centers'
access to new technology.
Some of Elekta's newly-launched technologies include its
image-guidance solutions, Intuity and Symmetry, that provide higher
clinical precision. The company also launched a new platform for
Elekta Neuromag that allows researchers and clinicians to map brain
The company is counting on sales of its new products as well as
its roster of oldies but goodies to keep its sales figures up. Net
sales grew by 11% in 2010 and operating results increased by 48%,
thanks to higher volumes, efficiency improvements, and a little
help from positive currency exchanges in some places. In order to
keep those figures up, Elekta will have to keep an eye on political
decisions that could impact reimbursement levels, in the US and
elsewhere. Negative reimbursement levels generally lead to reduced
health care spending, in both the private and public sectors.
Dr. Leksell's son, Dr. Laurent Leksell, is the company's
single-largest individual shareholder. Laurent Leksell headed
Elekta as CEO from its start in 1972 (when he was 20) until 2005.
He now sits on the board of directors and on the executive
committee. Dr. Lars Leksell died in 1986.