Harvard, Danish team develop new brain cancer MRI approach

Harvard Medical School and Danish researchers have developed a new MRI technique that can help determine how well patients with aggressive brain cancer will respond to a particular form of treatment.

Known as vessel architectural imaging, the technique represents a potentially major advance in the evolving approach toward personalized medicine. But it also showcases the increased utility of MRI as a diagnostic imaging tool, and the findings could serve as a major boost for MRI manufacturers across the board, depending on the results of further research. A Siemens ($SI) researcher participated in the study. But General Electric ($GE), Philips ($PHG), Varian ($VAR) and Toshiba are among the competitors that could also see gains from the new technique.

The researchers explain that the technique "exploits an overlooked temporal shift in the magnetic resonance imaging signal" to reveal more about vessel type and function than other noninvasive imaging techniques currently can provide. Kim Mouridsen, an associate professor at Aarhus University, worked with the Harvard team to develop the approach, which is designed to spot how well a patient is responding to drugs designed to block the growth of new blood vessels that feed tumor growth.

Mouridsen explained in a statement that the approach "allows us to only select the patients who will actually benefit from the treatment, and to quickly initiate or intensify other treatments for non-responding patients."

Such a diagnostic tool is important for brain cancer. Mouridsen noted that the advance could help surgeons better customize a patient's resulting treatment and also develop and improve how brain tumors are treated in general.

The journal Nature Medicine highlights their research in detail.

- read the release
- here's the journal abstract