Using an MRI scanner to direct cancer-killing cells to tumours

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  • Published: Aug 25, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: MRI Spectroscopy / Raman / NMR Knowledge Base / Infrared Spectroscopy / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics / Proteomics / Base Peak / Atomic / X-ray Spectrometry

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MRI scanners can be used to kill cancers, as well as locate them, according to new research published in Nature Communications. Scientists have developed a procedure in which the scanner transports cells injected with a virus that selectively killers tumour cells. By labelling the cells with magnetic nanoparticles, they can be directed to precise locations within the body.

"The beauty of using the MRI scanner to administer the therapy is that you can also use it for its original purpose providing a real-time image-guide to ensure the treatment has gone where it is needed" said research team leader Munitta Muthana from the Department of Oncology at the University of Sheffield.

The patient would gain by undergoing a non-invasive treatment and the targeted approach suggests that smaller drug doses could be injected, so reducing the potential side effects.

The procedure was illustrated using mice with prostate cancer that were injected with macrophage cells infected with an adenovirus and the effects of therapy were improved by 800%.

One of the principal advantages of the therapy would be to treat tumours that are difficult to access surgically, such as those in the brain or liver. The researchers showed that metastatic prostate cancers in the lungs of mice could also be accessed by MRI-assisted therapy.

Although the study concentrated specifically on tumours, it could be used to target any tissue in the body, using magnetised cells. "Our results suggest that it is possible to use a standard MRI scanner to naturally deliver cell-based therapies to both primary and secondary tumours which would normally be impossible to reach by injection," declared Muthana.


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