A revolutionary new application of an imaging technique to predict the response to chemotherapy before treatment begins was announced today (21 October 2002). Dr Yael Mardor, from the Sheba Medical Centre, Israel, described the preliminary results in mice of the potential use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Nice, France.
The technique is called 'Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging' - DWMRI. It is sensitive to the different characteristics related to the water content of biological tissues. DWMRI has been recently studied in clinical trials as a means to measure the response to therapy after treatment has commenced but, said Dr Mardor, "This is the first time we have been able to demonstrate that it is possible to work out what might happen to a tumour before treatment has begun."
Using DWMRI, the researchers were able to visualise and measure the water characteristics in the tissues of mice with colon carcinoma before and after chemotherapy. They found a significant correlation in the water diffusion properties prior to treatment with the subsequent growth rate of the tumour.
There is a great deal of scientific interest in tissue characterisation for diagnosis and the prognosis of cancer treatment. "In the future, we hope that DWMRI will be a valuable tool in working out the best treatment program for patients with cancer," said Dr Mardor. "We are a long way away yet, but we are working on it."