By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The University of Maryland Medical System made an important announcement today.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given final approval of the GammaPod machine developed over the past decade by doctors and scientists at the medical school.

The GammaPod is a first-of-its-kind machine that localizes very intense radiation directly on a breast tumor, eliminating exposure to other breast tissue and a woman’s heart and lungs. It’s designed to be used on women with early-stage breast disease whose tumors are estrogen receptive.

Doctors who developed the GammaPod say it could cut down the need for treatment to one to five exposures and eventually eliminate the need for surgery in some women.

The treatment is also said to be comfortable and relatively short in duration. Clinical trials will begin within the month.

The FDA approval also means a company located in Columbia will now begin manufacturing the machine so other institutions can use it to offer women with early-stage disease another form of treatment.

The GammaPod was developed over the past 10 years with the help of a $3.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

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