Clinical trial using an advanced imaging method could predict sites of glioblastoma tumour progression

Monday 20 February 2017

A new, promising clinical trial, led by Dr Stephen Price, is opening in the UK to look at how using advanced imaging methods can predict where a glioblastoma tumour is likely to grow back before any treatment is given. This study is the first of its kind to better understand this question.

Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain tumour found in adults. Patients are treated with surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, current treatments show little benefit as the majority of patients experience disease progression in the area next to where the tumour is removed. This suggests that there are cells left behind not removed by surgery or treatment that grow and develop in to secondary tumours

“There has been a lot of research looking at how using advanced imaging methods can tell you more about a tumour, but only a handful have shown how you might use them to change how you treat a patient”, says Dr Stephen Price, Consultant Neurosurgeon, University of Cambridge.

Dr Price has developed an imaging technique known as Diffusion Tensor Imaging so that it can identify invasive glioblastoma tumour tissue that is not seen by conventional imaging. Better understanding of invasive tissue can improve outcomes by allowing neurosurgeons to change the way that they operate on patients and enabling personalisation of treatment such as radiotherapy, to target these invasive regions.

“Once we developed a method of identifying tumour regrowth with a high degree of accuracy, we could look at changing what we operate on or what we treat with radiotherapy. Our most recent data, from a paper we published in January 2017, suggest that by removing more of these areas that we identify on our new MRI scans, improves patient survival and delays progression”.

Read the full paper.

The study will run from the Department of Neurosurgery at Cambridge University as well as eight other centres across the UK to recruit 120 patients with newly diagnosed high grade glioma. Before receiving any treatment, participants will be given a DTI scan along with an MRI scan. At the end of the study, the investigators will assess the diagnostic accuracy of using DTI to predict where the tumour had regrown.

As a Charity we believe that clinical trials, such as this, are vital to establish whether a new approach is better than the old one to improve the quality of life and survival of patients.

Read more about how you could take part in a clinical trial.