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New Scan May Help Find Aggressive Prostate Tumors
Date:1/27/2010

he other two regions were near the outer edges of the glands, where exposure to air made the magnetic resonance results less clear.

The same kind of analysis can be done without removing the prostate glands, so Cheng and his colleagues are moving toward a trial that would more resemble the work now done by doctors.

"We are doing a validation study," Cheng said. "Once these data are verified, we need to work with the electronics people to develop more sensitive probes. Once that part is overcome, everything can be applied."

The validation study will take "optimistically, one to three months," Cheng said. Getting data showing that the technology can be used in human patients "will take some time, a year or two," he said.

When and if it comes to human trials, "the most urgent issue is to guide biopsies," Cheng said. "By taking a chemical spectrum of tissue, we may be able to do better than pathology to tell how aggressive a tumor is."

The technology currently requires a magnetic field far more powerful than those in magnetic resonance imaging devices in current medical use, and so part of the program at Massachusetts General Hospital is an effort to make the method usable in less powerful devices, he said.

Cheng's program is one of a number of efforts aimed at applying magnetic resonance imaging to prostate cancer diagnosis. Another already is available commercially, marketed by iCAD Inc., a New Hampshire-based company.

The iCAD technology uses "dynamic contrast-enhanced" imaging, said Marc Filerman, vice president of global marketing for the company. Gadolinium, a contrast agent, is injected into the prostate gland "to produce images that better highlight where the potentially cancerous lesion might be," he said.

Gadolinium concentrates in regions where there are fast-growing blood vessels that the voracious expansion of cancerous tissue requires, he said. "Those blood vessels are leaky, a
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