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Eckert & Ziegler Receives Large-Scale Contract for Cancer Treatment Systems in Venezuela

Berlin, 27.01.2006. Eckert & Ziegler AG (ISIN DE000565970), a company that specializes in cancer therapy, has received via its sales partner Philips a large-scale contract from the Venezuelan Health Ministry to supply cancer radiation systems known as afterloaders. At a volume of around 4 million USD, the contract also includes a five-year maintenance agreement. This contract, which will supply a number of Venezuelan radiation clinics over the next 18 months, is part of a larger investment program by the Chavez administration which aims to provide basic oncology services to larger segments of the population.

"Our afterloaders of the types Curietron(R) and MultiSource(R) feature ideal technical properties for this region, because the high half-lives of the isotopes used mean that the radiation sources require comparatively infrequent replacement," explained Dr. Edgar Löffler, the member of the Eckert & Ziegler Executive Board in charge of the therapy segment. "One of the crucial factors for the customer," he added, "was the fact that our new generation of equipment operates substantially more effectively and economically, and is increasingly becoming the gold standard in gynecological oncology. This has enabled us to acquire experienced sales partners who in turn have helped us come out ahead of tough international competition. This contract also confirms our decision to continue investing in tumor radiation equipment and pursuing innovative approaches to radiation technology."

The term "afterloading" describes a radiation therapy process in which a small radioactive source is inserted in an organ such as the uterus. The tumor is thus radiated from inside instead of outside. Thanks to the spatial proximity between the radioactive source and the diseased tissue, a high dose can be focused directly on the tumor while the adjacent healthy organs can be largely spared. To do so, an empty catheter is first inserted. After checking its position by e.g. X-ray or ultrasound, the medical personnel can leave the treatment room. A radioactive source is then "afterloaded" - via an electronic control system - into the catheter. Following the radiation treatment, the source is removed by the same procedure. The advantages of afterloading are that the tumor receives a high radioactive dose while the surrounding tissue is largely spared. Furthermore, medical personnel are no longer subjected to radiation. Afterloading is a well-established technique for treating tumors in the uterus, breast, esophagus, lungs, and prostate.

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