CRUK. Published online: 11th April 2016.
Image shows confocal micrograph of prostate cancer cells treated with curcumin.
The first cancer patient in Europe has been scanned with a revolutionary imaging technique that could enable doctors to see whether a drug is working within a day or two of starting treatment.
The patient is the first to take part in a new metabolic imaging trial* of patients across a wide range of cancer types to be carried out by Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, part of Cambridge University Hospitals. The study, which is funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award, could show whether patients can stop taking drugs that aren’t working for them, try different ones and receive the best treatment for their cancer as quickly as possible.
The rapid scan will allow doctors to map out molecular changes in patients, opening up potential new ways to detect cancer and monitor the effects of treatment.
The technique uses a breakdown product of glucose called pyruvate. The pyruvate is labelled with a non-radioactive form of carbon, called carbon 13 (C-13) which makes it 10,000 times more likely to be detected in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Pyruvate is injected into the patient and tracked as the molecule moves around the body and enters cells. The scan monitors how quickly cancer cells break pyruvate down – a measure of how active the cells are that tells doctors whether or not a drug has been effective at killing them.
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