Feature | June 18, 2014

A Few Circulating Cancer Cells Could Cue Risk of Metastases

Research combines novel molecular imaging techniques to predict spread of cancer and patient survival based on outlier cancer cells in the blood

June 18, 2014 – A simple noninvasive blood test matched with state-of-the-art molecular imaging of individual cells could help oncologists understand their patients’ chances of survival, said researchers at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging’s 2014 Annual Meeting (SNMMI).

Metastasis accounts for an estimated 90 percent of cancer deaths. For decades, researchers tried to develop a way to gauge a cancer’s risk of metastasizing from a blood sample — the long-sought-after liquid biopsy. Today, there are numerous methods available to isolate lone cells. Novel methods recently used to study those cells are radioluminescence microscopy, which combines nuclear medicine, optical imaging and single-cell autoradiography (SCAR), used to localize the micro-distribution of radioactive substances in a single cell in order to image a particular physiological process, such as a receptor expressing genetic information or an enzyme involved in cellular metabolism.

“We are now starting to study the properties of these lone cancer cells, which could be predictive of different disease states, and that understanding could help guide therapy decisions,” said Laura S. Sasportas, a principal researcher and Ph.D. candidate in the Gambhir Lab in the department of bioengineering at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. “The great potential of looking at circulating tumor cells (CTCs) has been limited mainly by their extreme rarity. For example, in the case of breast cancer, CTCs are estimated to be in the order of a few to a few hundred cells among billions of blood cells in a typical 7.5 milliliter blood sample from a cancer patient. In the past decade, however, CTC research has been booming due to the development of exciting new technologies that can sensitively detect and harvest those very rare cells from patient’s blood.”

For this study, researchers took breast cancer cells isolated from the blood of small animal models and imaged them using radioluminescence microscopy and SCAR along with a common molecular imaging radiotracer called F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). The latter mirrors the exchange of energy in the presence of glucose in order to target the few hyper-metabolic cancer cells within these blood samples. Results of the research showed that less than 3 percent of CTCs in the sample indicated increased cellular metabolism compared to the parent cancer cell line. Researchers are not yet sure if this indicates an aggressive cancer cell or not. Further research and validation in clinical trials is needed to strengthen the theory.

“We hypothesize that the unexplored metabolic characterization of CTCs could provide valuable information for disease monitoring,” said Sasportas. “By evaluating the glucose metabolism of CTCs with F-18 FDG, we could better manage the care of cancer patients by improving therapy selection and therefore avoiding unnecessary treatment.”  

For more information: www.snmmi.org

Related Content

ASNC Announces Multisocietal Cardiac Amyloidosis Imaging Consensus
News | Cardiac Imaging | September 09, 2019
September 9, 2019 — The American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) published a new expert consensus document along
A 3-D printed tungsten pre-clinical X-ray system collimator. 3D printed, additive manufacturing for medical imaging.

A 3-D printed tungsten pre-clinical X-ray system collimator. The tungsten alloy powder is printed into the form desired and is laser fused so it can be machined and finished. Previously, making collimators from Tungsten was labor intensive because it required working with sheets of the metal to create the collimator matrix. 

Feature | Medical 3-D Printing | September 04, 2019 | By Steve Jeffery
In ...
A SPECT nuclear scan of the heart to show perfusion defects in the myocardium due to coronary artery blockages or heart attack. The imaging uses the Mo-99 based medical imaging isotope Tc-99m. The U.S. government has created policy to move away from use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU) for Mo-99 isotope production, but there is one hold out who has not yet converted before a 2020 deadline. Photo courtesy of Philips Healthcare.

A SPECT nuclear scan of the heart to show perfusion defects in the myocardium due to coronary artery blockages or heart attack. The imaging uses the Mo-99 based medical imaging isotope Tc-99m. The U.S. government has created policy to move away from use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU) for Mo-99 isotope production, but there is one holdout who has not yet converted before a 2020 deadline. Photo courtesy of Philips Healthcare.

Feature | Nuclear Imaging | August 30, 2019 | Dave Fornell, Editor
In a surprising move, the National Institute for Radioelements (IRE) has applied for a new license to export highly e
University of Alabama at Birmingham Leading Production of Theranostic Radioisotope

Image courtesy of the University of Alabama at Birmingham

News | Radiopharmaceuticals and Tracers | August 29, 2019
The University of Alabama at Birmingham, in conjunction with researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Argonne...
United Imaging Announces First U.S. Clinical Installation of uExplorer Total-body PET/CT
News | PET-CT | August 15, 2019
United Imaging announced that its uExplorer total-body positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) system...
ASRT Supports Radiopharmaceutical Reimbursement Bill
News | Radiopharmaceuticals and Tracers | August 02, 2019
The American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) announced its support for House Resolution (HR) 3772, a measure...
International Multidisciplinary Group Publishes Recommendations for Personalized HCC Treatment With Y90 TheraSphere
News | Interventional Radiology | July 31, 2019
New consensus recommendations for personalized treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with BTG’s TheraSphere have...
NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes Awarded $30 Million by U.S. Department of Energy
News | Radiopharmaceuticals and Tracers | July 26, 2019
NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC has been awarded $15 million in a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of...
NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes Completes Construction on Beloit, Wis. Molybdenum-99 Processing Facility
News | Radiopharmaceuticals and Tracers | July 16, 2019
NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC  announced completion of construction on its 20,000-square-foot molybdenum-99 (Mo-...
Varian Purchasing Embolic Bead Assets from Boston Scientific
News | Interventional Radiology | July 03, 2019
Varian announced it has signed an asset purchase agreement to acquire the Boston Scientific portfolio of drug-loadable...