August 22, 2007 — A new chemical compound that could remove the need for patients to undergo certain invasive diagnostic tests in the future has been created by scientists at Durham University.
Research published in the academic journal, Chemical Communications, reveals that this new compound could be used in a 'chemically-sensitive MRI scan' to help identify the extent of progression of diseases such as cancer, without the need for intrusive biopsies.
The researchers, who are part of an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded group developing new ways of imaging cancer, have created a chemical which contains fluorine. It could, in theory, be given to the patient by injection before an MRI scan. The fluorine responds differently according to the varying acidity in the body, so that tumors could be highlighted and appear in contrast or 'light up' on the resulting scan.
Professor David Parker of Durham University's Department of Chemistry explained, "We have taken an important first step towards the development of a selective new imaging method. However, we appreciate that there is a lot of work to do to take this laboratory work and put it into practice. In principle, this approach could be of considerable benefit in the diagnosis of diseases such as breast, liver or prostate cancer."
For more information: www.dur.ac.uk