July 8, 2013
New Technique Uses MRI To Detect Sugar In Cancerous Tumors
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The new technique, which is known as "glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer (glucoCEST)," was developed using the knowledge that cancerous tumors consume much more glucose than healthy tissues in order to sustain their growth. By sensitizing an MRI scanner to glucose uptake, the researchers were able to cause those tumors to appear as bright images on MRI scans taken of laboratory mice.
"GlucoCEST uses radio waves to magnetically label glucose in the body," explained lead researcher Dr. Simon Walker-Samuel. "This can then be detected in tumors using conventional MRI techniques. The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumors, which require the injection of radioactive material."
"We can detect cancer using the same sugar content found in half a standard sized chocolate bar," added CABI director and senior author Professor Mark Lythgoe. "Our research reveals a useful and cost-effective method for imaging cancers using MRI - a standard imaging technology available in many large hospitals."
Lythgoe added that their research could ultimately make it possible for patients to undergo cancer screenings at their local hospitals, instead of having to be referred to specialists. The research appears in the latest edition of the journal Nature Medicine, and according to the university, trials are currently underway in order to test the method's ability to detect glucose in cancerous human tissue.
"Our cross-disciplinary research could allow vulnerable patient groups such as pregnant women and young children to be scanned more regularly, without the risks associated with a dose of radiation," said UCL professor and senior author Xavier Golay. Dr. Walker-Samuel added the researchers had successfully developed "a new state-of-the-art imaging technique to visualize and map the location of tumors that will hopefully enable us to assess the efficacy of novel cancer therapies."
The research was financially supported through public and charitable funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, Cancer Research UK, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF).