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Brain Scans Used to Monitor Effect of Cancer Drug

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 02/17/2004

Brain Scans Used to Monitor Effect of Cancer Drug

Tue 17 February, 2004 19:25
By Patricia Reaney
LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists said Tuesday they have used a brain-imaging technique to monitor the effectiveness of a drug on tumors.

Instead of studying the size of the brain tumor over time, the researchers used nuclear magnetic resonance imaging to monitor molecular changes in cancer cells to predict at an early stage whether the drug was working.

"The technique has been around for a while but it has not been used in this context for looking at the metabolism in cancer cells," Professor Martin Leach, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said in an interview.

"The conventional scan is an image and you can see the extent of a tumor. What this (new application) does is look at the cells and asks how they are working. It gives information on chemicals in the cells rather than just the distribution of tissue," he added

The scientists identified changes caused by the chemotherapy drug temozolomide on patients with low-grade glioma brain tumors -- one of the most difficult types of cancer to treat.

A low-grade glioma tends to be slow-growing but it can quickly change into a much more aggressive and deadly tumor.

In research reported in The British Journal of Cancer, they measured levels of a molecule called choline, which indicates that cells are dividing and that the tumor is growing. They also measured the size of the tumor with magnetic resonance imaging scans in 13 patients.

The amount of choline gave an early indication whether the drug was halting cell division and the growth of the tumor.

Leach said the results show that using nuclear magnetic resonance could give doctors an early indication of whether temozolomide is working or if a patient could benefit more by switching to another drug.

Gliomas, one of the most common types of brain tumors, can cause headaches, seizures, behavior changes and dizziness. Treatments include surgery and chemotherapy depending on the size and the location of the tumor.

Leach and his colleagues believe studying the behavior of cancer cells with nuclear magnetic resonance could be useful for doctors in identifying different types of gliomas and how various drugs affect them.

"They could then predict which tumor types are likely to respond to treatments before giving them to patients," Leach added.

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