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Magnetic probe successfully tracks implanted cells in cancer patients

n disappointing, with some patients responding very well but others not at all. A critical issue behind each patient's success on the treatment, however, is whether the cells get to the lymph nodes, where the immune system's fighters are normally "trained" by dendritic cells. Until now, there's been no accurate way to know where the cells end up.

It's thought, but not proven, that the best way to get the cells where they need to be is to inject them directly into the lymph nodes that drain the area containing a tumor. Currently, doctors use ultrasound to guide the needle, and dendritic cells carrying a radioactive tag are sometimes used to try to double-check the cells' final resting place.

However, in this study, the Dutch team discovered that using MRI and iron oxide particles was able to track the cells' location much more accurately than the radioactive tracking method and provided anatomic detail simultaneously -- structural detail not possible by tracking radioactivity.

"On the MR images, we can see the lymph nodes, and we can see the magnetically labeled dendritic cells, and we can tell very clearly whether they are in the same place," says the study's first author, Jolanda de Vries, an assistant professor at the Nijmegen Center for the Molecular Life Sciences (NCMLS) of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in The Netherlands. "The cells can't get from the fat into the lymph nodes by themselves, so injecting them properly is very important."

Bulte says he, Dara Kraitchman, Ph.D., D.V.M., and colleagues at Hopkins are already testing magnetically labeled stem cells with MRI-compatible injection systems to allow MRI guidance of injection in large animals.

The current clinical trial builds on Bulte's earlier work tracking magnetically labeled cells in animals. Four years ago, he and colleagues reported that stem cells containing so-called magnetodendrimers could be followed by MRI.

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Source:Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


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