Feature | July 10, 2013

Sugar Makes Cancer Light-up in MRI Scanners

glucoCEST University College London Tumors MRI glucose

UCL scientists have developed a new technique for detecting the uptake of sugar in tumors, using magnetic resonance imaging.

Tumors use large quantities of glucose to sustain their growth. By injecting normal, unlabeled sugar, UCL scientists have developed a way to detect its accumulation in tumors.

July 10, 2013 — A new technique for detecting cancer by imaging the consumption of sugar with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been unveiled by University College London (UCL) scientists. The breakthrough could provide a safer and simpler alternative to standard radioactive techniques and enable radiologists to image tumors in greater detail.

The new technique, called glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer (glucoCEST), is based on the fact that tumors consume much more glucose (a type of sugar) than normal, healthy tissues in order to sustain their growth.

The researchers found that sensitizing an MRI scanner to glucose uptake caused tumors to appear as bright images on MRI scans of mice.

Lead researcher Dr. Simon Walker-Samuel, from the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) said: "GlucoCEST uses radio waves to magnetically label glucose in the body. This can then be detected in tumors using conventional MRI techniques. The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumors, which require the injection of radioactive material." Professor Mark Lythgoe, director of CABI and a senior author on the study, said: "We can detect cancer using the same sugar content found in half a standard sized chocolate bar. Our research reveals a useful and cost-effective method for imaging cancers using MRI — a standard imaging technology available in many large hospitals."

He continued: "In the future, patients could potentially be scanned in local hospitals, rather than being referred to specialist medical centers." The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine and trials are now underway to detect glucose in human cancers.

According to UCL's Professor Xavier Golay, another senior author on the study: "Our cross-disciplinary research could allow vulnerable patient groups such as pregnant women and young children to be scanned more regularly, without the risks associated with a dose of radiation." Walker-Samuel added: "We have developed a new state-of-the-art imaging technique to visualize and map the location of tumors that will hopefully enable us to assess the efficacy of novel cancer therapies."           

For more information: www.ucl.ac.uk

Related Content

First FDA-Approved Study of Focused Ultrasound to Open Blood-Brain Barrier
News | Focused Ultrasound Therapy | August 21, 2018
In the first such clinical trial in the United States, physician-scientists with the University of Maryland School of...
Videos | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 13, 2018
Haojie Wang, M.D., director of advanced cardiovascular MRI and a member of the heart valve clinic at Baylor Scott Whi
ACR LI-RADS Steering Committee Releases New Version of CT/MRI LI-RADS
News | Clinical Decision Support | August 13, 2018
August 13, 2018 — The American College of Radiology Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System (LI-RADS) steering commit
Indiana Hospital Installs First Vantage Titan/Zen Edition 1.5T MRI in U.S.
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 10, 2018
Patients in Pulaski County, Ind., now have access to quiet, comfortable magnetic resonance (MR) exams thanks to the...
3T MRI Installed at The London Clinic Through Hospital Roof

Image courtesy of The London Clinic

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 08, 2018
Patients at The London Clinic, a private hospital and charity, will be the first in the United Kingdom to access the...
Videos | Contrast Media | August 03, 2018
Lawrence Tanenbaum, M.D., FACR, vice president and director of advanced imaging at RadNet, discusses the latest resea
Videos | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 01, 2018
Robert Junk and Tobias Gilk, MRSO, MRSE, of architectural firm RAD-Planning, discuss the different types of safety ha
Thirty-Six Percent of Medical Facilities Not Compliant With MRI Safety Standards
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | July 27, 2018
Global magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) safety firm Metrasens recently conducted a survey in which 36 percent of 162...
Artificial Intelligence Provides Faster, Clearer MRI Scans

A new artificial-intelligence-based approach to image reconstruction, called AUTOMAP, yields higher quality images from less data, reducing radiation doses for CT and PET and shortening scan times for MRI. Shown here are MR images reconstructed from the same data with conventional approaches, at left, and AUTOMAP, at right. Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital

News | Artificial Intelligence | July 17, 2018
A research team with funding from the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) has...
iSchemaView Brings RAPID Imaging Platform to Australia and New Zealand
News | Stroke | July 13, 2018
iSchemaView has signed Diagnostic Imaging Australia (DIA) to be the exclusive distributor for the RAPID cerebrovascular...
Overlay Init