In the new study, the researchers tested a scanning technique called pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance imaging and used it in tandem with magnetic resonance imaging. The study authors said they were able to successfully measure oxygen levels in tumors in mice by using the non-invasive technology.
"The imaging that is described in this study provides all of the information necessary to evaluate oxygen levels in tumors as well as to examine underlying causes for the lack of oxygen," Dewhirst said. "The fact that all of the imaging is completely non-invasive provides the ability to perform this measurement more than once, (meaning) this could be used to monitor the effectiveness of cancer therapy."
There are caveats, however. The research hasn't reached the human testing level yet, and it may not work in people. "Scaling up the method to make it suitable for use in humans will be a significant challenge, but not impossible," Dewhirst said.
For now, the plan is to launch more studies with animals to see if the technique works as a way to test cancer drugs.
Learn more about cancer from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
SOURCES: Mark W. Dewhirst, DVM, Ph.D., Gustavo S. Montana professor of radiation oncology and professor of pathology and biomedical engineering, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; James Mitchell, Ph.D., branch chief, radiation biology, Center for Cancer Research, U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.; April 22, 2008, Journal of Clinical Investigation
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