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Penn engineers develop more effective MRI contrast agent for cancer detection
Date:12/23/2011

its environment becomes. This means that the glycol chitosan-coated is a good detector of malignancy, opening up treatment options above and beyond diagnosis.

"You can take any nanoparticle and put this coating on it, so it's not limited to imaging by any means," said Tsourkas. "You could also use it to deliver drugs to tumor sites."

The researchers hope that, within seven to 10 years, glycol-chitosan-coated iron oxide nanoparticles could improve the specificity of diagnostic screening. The ability to accurately detect sites of malignancy by MRI would be an immediate improvement to existing contrast agents for certain breast cancer scans.

"Gadolinium is used as a contrast agent in MRI breast cancer screenings for high-risk patients. These patients are recommended to get an MRI in addition to the usual mammogram, because the sensitivity of mammograms can be poor," said Tsourkas. "The sensitivity of an MRI is much higher, but the specificity is low: the screening detects a lot of tumors, but many of them are benign. Having a tool like ours would allow clinicians to better differentiate the benign and malignant tumors, especially since there has been shown to be a correlation between malignancy and pH."


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Contact: Evan Lerner
elerner@upenn.edu
215-573-6604
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert

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