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Diagnostic brain tumor test could revolutionize care of patients
Date:1/27/2012

DALLAS Jan. 26, 2012 Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have developed what they believe to be the first clinical application of a new imaging technique to diagnose brain tumors. The unique test could preclude the need for surgery in patients whose tumors are located in areas of the brain too dangerous to biopsy.

This new magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) technique provides a definitive diagnosis of cancer based on imaging of a protein associated with a mutated gene found in 80 percent of low- and intermediate-grade gliomas. Presence of the mutation also means a better prognosis.

"To our knowledge, this is the only direct metabolic consequence of a genetic mutation in a cancer cell that can be identified through noninvasive imaging," said Dr. Elizabeth Maher, associate professor of internal medicine and neurology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, available online in Nature Medicine. "This is a major breakthrough for brain tumor patients."

UT Southwestern researchers developed the test by modifying the settings of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to track the protein's levels. The data acquisition and analysis procedure was developed by study lead author Dr. Changho Choi, associate professor of the Advanced Imaging Research Center (AIRC) and radiology. Previous research linked high levels of this protein to the mutation, and UT Southwestern researchers already had been working on MRS of gliomas to find tumor biomarkers.

"Our next step is to make this testing procedure widely available as part of routine MRIs for brain tumors. It doesn't require any injections or special equipment," said Dr. Maher, medical director of UT Southwestern's neuro-oncology program.

To substantiate the test as a diagnostic tool, biopsy samples from 30 glioma patients enrolled in the UT Southwestern clinical trial were analyzed; half had the mutation and expected high levels of the prote
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Contact: Debbie Bolles
debbie.bolles@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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