MRI advances see inside tumor cells
Today’s Magnetic Resonance Image scans can confirm the presence of a tumor. What they cannot do is tell doctors what is going on inside the tumor. However, UCSF scientists recently developed new MRI technologies that will provide physicians with scans that can actually look inside the cells to reveal whether they are growing or dying, letting doctors know whether a particular treatment is working or not.
>> Sarah: My name is Sarah Nelson and I am a Professor here at UCSF associated with Radiology and Bioengineering. My recent group works extensively on applications of magnet resonance imaging techniques to patients with brain tumors. Music The vast majority of MRI scans look at anatomic detail. And those anatomic images are certainly able to visualize the fact that there's a mass there. However, it doesn't tell you what's happening in terms of the tumor cells whether they're growing, whether they're dying.
>> Speaker: This right here is normal brain.
>> Sarah: So the new methodologies that we're work with are telling us about the processes that go on in the tumor. We're looking at changes in the chemicals within the cell.
>> Speaker: This is all that abnormal tissue.
>> Sarah: What you're trying to do is to choose a treatment that will eliminate as many of the tumor cells as possible but leave behind normal functioning brain. The first treatment for any patient with a brain tumor, provided that it's not in the area of the brain that's absolutely critical is surgery.
>> Speaker: This area is where they actually cut out the tumor in the brain.
>> Sarah: We have a person who goes into the operating room and collect these tissues, very small pieces of tissue that would have been removed anyway during the surgery. Then those are frozen so that they don't degrade and so we can then take them into the magnetic resonance lab and look at them with our technology.
>> Speaker: This really bright area, that's the area where the tumor region is localized to.
>> Sarah: The scan that we're obtaining is a scan of the tissue. So we're not actually looking at an image of the tissue, we're looking at a trace of the various chemicals that are in that tissue. It does tell the physician whether the treatment is working on the tumor or it will tell them that the treatment is not being effective and so you'd like to try a different treatment.
>> Speaker: These boxes that are highlighted in red show an abundance of a metabolite that's associated with cancer.
>> Sarah: The overall methodology, the engineering components that we have investigated and developed in the process can then be further adapted and applied to other diseases, as well as other cancers. All of these kinds of software developments, as well as in some cases hardware developments need to be commercialized by industry and then provided to everybody who has a scanner.
>> Speaker: This is a neurotransmitter on the brain so it's very high and healthy tissue.
>> Sarah: I definitely think it will save lives. Music