• Oxygen-Enhanced MRI Scan Could Bolster Cancer Treatment

    A new oxygen-enhanced MRI scan may be the key to helping doctors improve chemotherapy.

    By Tyler MacDonald

    Researchers from the The University of Manchester and The Institute of Cancer Research, London have created a new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test that could allow doctors to identify cancerous tumors before they spread and help scientists develop more effective treatment plans.

    The MRI test scans the brain for areas of oxygen deprivation within the tumors, which is typically a sign of aggressive tumor growth. The technology was developed by testing its ability to track oxygen deprivation within tumors that were implanted in mice. The researchers are continuing to develop the technology through clinical trials on cancer patients.

    “Our technique uses MRI technology to detect tumours with areas of oxygen depletion, which tend to be more aggressive and more resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy,” Simon Robinson, co-leader of the study, said in a press release. “Our study provides strong pre-clinical evidence to validate the use of oxygen-enhanced MRI to identify, quantify and map tumor hypoxia.”

    Using the new oxygen-based MRI method, doctors could bolster their radiotherapy by boosting doses of X-rays to specific, hypoxic areas of the tumors, as well as develop new methods of monitoring the effectiveness of radiotherapy and drug treatment.

    “There is currently no validated, affordable and widely available clinical imaging technique that can rapidly assess the distribution of tumour hypoxia,” said James O’Conner, fellow co-leader of the study. “Our findings from studies in mice are already being translated for use on conventional clinical MRI scanners. Ultimately we hope that oxygen-enhanced MRI will not only to identify the most dangerous tumors, but to assist radiotherapy treatment planning and for monitoring treatment response.”