New Imaging Technique Reveals Brain Tumor Function
Jul 29, 2013 - 11:42:51 AM
Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of primary brain tumors. While doctors have strived for years to develop new therapies for this disease, only incremental progress has been made. Standard imaging modalities such as MRI and CT scans do not accurately depict what is happening within the brain and within the tumor of a person being treated with chemotherapy and radiation.
"Right now, I have a patient who is doing great and exercising a lot, but the recent MRI has demonstrated possible progression," said William Read, MD, a medical neuro-oncologist at Winship.
That is one reason why work headed by Winship investigator Hyunsuk Shim, PhD and her colleagues, neurosurgeon Jeffrey Olson, MD, and radiation oncologist Hui-Kuo Shu, MD, recently attracted a five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This team of brain tumor researchers has been using a unique way to peer into the brain to determine whether a certain drug therapy may be effective at treating these notoriously resistant brain tumors.
"This is huge," says Olson. "It lets us see something we otherwise couldn't see, something that can help us make best decisions for our patients. Glioblastoma is just an awful disease, and anything that can lighten the burden is tremendously important. No one else is doing anything close to this."
The U01 grant from the NCI also places Winship into an elite network of NCI-designated cancer centers that studies quantitative imaging methods to measure tumor response to therapies in clinical trial settings. The Quantitative Imaging Network, which now includes 16 cancer centers with the addition of Winship into its ranks, is awarded through a highly-selective NIH peer review process.
The imaging technique that the Winship team is developing to quantitatively assess how glioblastoma patients are responding to therapies is magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, or MRSI. Unlike the standard MRI which only gives structural information on the tumor and surrounding brain, MRSI can peer further into the tumor to detect changes in its metabolism, which may indicate how fast a tumor is growing, shrinking or dying.
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