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New MRI technique shows if brain tumor treatment is working

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | August 22, 2013
(Courtesy Siemens Healthcare)
A new method of MRI analysis can tell if a brain tumor treatment is working just days after the treatment is started.

The new technique, called vessel architectural imaging (VAI), identified changes in brain tumor blood vessels shortly after the use of anti-angiogenesis therapy, in a study published in Nature Medicine.

Anti-angiogenesis drugs are designed to "normalize" the abnormal, leaky blood vessels in a tumor. VAI uses two types of advanced MR images and uses them to determine the size, radius and capacity of blood vessels, and doctors can use that information to understand how much oxygen is being delivered to tissues.
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Researchers saw vascular changes using the treatment in some patients after 28 days, and in some as early as the next day. While the patients had an expected survival of less than two years, those patients that responded to the treatment ultimately survived six months longer than the non-responders.

"Since only about half the patients who receive a typical anti-cancer drug benefit and the others just suffer side effects, knowing whether or not a patient's tumor is responding to a drug can bring us one step closer to truly personalized medicine," said Gregory Sorensen, report author and CEO of Siemens Healthcare, in a press release.

Previous methods of monitoring tumor blood vessels involved either a biopsy or PET scan. The new method can show more information without exposing the patient to surgery or radiation, the study authors said.

The Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA), a trade lobby, released a statement expressing excitement over this latest use of emerging MRI technology.

"This is exactly the kind of technology and technique breakthroughs that are underscoring the need for medical imaging technology," Brian Connell, director of government relations at MITA, told DOTmed News. "You're seeing new studies like this that come out, where people are using the newest technologies in different ways that weren't thought of even a year ago."

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