New imaging technique for cancer drugs trialled in the UK

Tuesday 12 April 2016

A new metabolic imaging trial has taken place on a cancer patient at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. The scanning technique, the first time it's been used on a patient in Europe, is designed to indicate much more rapidly whether cancer drugs have worked.

The new technique could ensure that patients get the best possible, tailored treatment more efficiently and with less delays.

“We're very excited to be the first group outside North America, and the third group world-wide to test this with patients," said Professor Kevin Brindle, co-lead at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

The technique involves labelling pyruvate, a breakdown product of glucose, with non-radioactive carbon that is 10,000 times more detectable in an MRI scan. The technique monitors how quickly cancer cells break down the pyruvate, indicating how effective a cancer drug has been in killing them.

“We hope that it will soon help improve treatment by putting to an end patients being given treatments that aren't working for them. Each person's cancer is different and this technique could help us tailor a patient's treatment more quickly than before," said Professor Brindle.

Dr Ferdia Gallagher, co-lead said: “We hope this will progress the way cancer treatment is given and make therapy more effective for patients in the future. This new technique could potentially mean that doctors will find out much more quickly if a treatment is working for their patient rather than waiting to see if a tumour shrinks."

The new technique has been carried out by Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

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