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

"Residual Echo" of Ancient Humans May Hold Clues to Mental Disorders

MRI data shows (left) areas of the skull preferentially affected by the amount of Neanderthal-derived DNA and (right) areas of the brain’s visual system in which Neanderthal gene variants influenced cortex folding (red) and gray matter volume (yellow). Image courtesy of Michael Gregory, M.D., NIMH Section on Integrative Neuroimaging

News | Neuro Imaging | July 26, 2017
Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have produced the first direct evidence that parts of...
Technology | Pediatric Imaging | July 21, 2017
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device specifically...
Synergy Radiology Associates Employs UroNav Fusion Biopsy System for Better Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
News | Biopsy Systems | July 17, 2017
Radiologists from Synergy Radiology Associates (SRA) in Houston are using the power of 3-D medical imaging and...
News | Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) | July 13, 2017
Elekta and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre have initiated installation of Elekta’s MR-linac, an investigational...
Researchers Identify Visual System Changes that May Signal Parkinson's Disease
News | Neuro Imaging | July 11, 2017
Changes in the visual systems of newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease patients may provide important biomarkers for the...
New Study Uses MRI to Probe Psychopathic Brains
News | Neuro Imaging | July 07, 2017
Josh Buckholtz, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Harvard University, is the senior author of a study that...
ACR Launches Updated LI-RADS for Liver Imaging
News | Clinical Decision Support | July 06, 2017
July 6, 2017 — Radiologists can improve their consistency of interpreting and reporting...
German Workshop Highlights Possibilities of Perfusion MRI
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | July 03, 2017
When diagnosing strokes and heart diseases or looking at tumors, perfusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers a...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Clinical Decision Support | June 29, 2017
Rami Doukky, M.D., system chair, Division of Cardiology, professor of medicine, Cook County Health and Hospitals Syst
Overlay Init