A natural form of sugar could offer a new, noninvasive way to precisely image tumors and potentially see whether cancer medication is effective, by means of a new imaging technology developed at UC San Francisco in collaboration with
The technology uses a compound called pyruvate, which is created when glucose breaks down in the body and which normally supplies energy to cells. In cancer, however, pyruvate is more frequently converted to a different compound, known as lactate.
Previous animal studies showed that scientists could track the levels of pyruvate as it is converted to lactate via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), by using a technology called hyperpolarization and injecting the hyperpolarized pyruvate into the body. The amount of lactate produced and rate of conversion enabled researchers to precisely detect the limits of a mouse s tumor, identify which cancers were most aggressive and track early biochemical changes as tumors responded to medication, long before physical changes occurred.
Now, a 31-patient study performed by scientists at
Findings appeared online in the
While this first-in-human study was designed to identify a safe dosage and verify effectiveness, it lays the groundwork for using the technology to diagnose a variety of cancers and track treatment noninvasively, without conducting repeated biopsies.
We now have a safe dose for patients that was our primary goal, said
In animal models, the amount of lactate over pyruvate is directly related to the aggressiveness of the cancer. We also have a lot of data that show it s reduced in cancers after treatment, she said. This is a very ubiquitous molecule that will be important in tailoring treatments to specific individuals.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer, with more than 200,000 new cases reported each year in
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