Hyperpolarized MRI aims to slash time needed to determine tumor treatment response

A new MRI technique being studied at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City could cut the time needed to reveal whether a tumor is responding to treatment from a matter of weeks to just a few days.

The technology in question makes use of hyperpolarized MRI to track tumors as they metabolize a sugar solution.

Kayvan Keshari, PhD, and his Memorial Sloan Kettering colleagues prepare the molecules of the sugar solution by orienting them to the MRI’s magnetic field at extremely low temperatures. The result is a 10,000-fold increase in the signal strength emitted by the substance, which is then injected into the patient.

Imaging the metabolic processes of the tumor in this manner could potentially be able to tell whether a treatment is working within 24 to 48 hours, according to Keshari.

Testing began in May at Memorial Sloan Kettering using GE’s SpinLab system. Initial research focused on prostate cancer but future investigations will target breast, brain, liver, kidney, and bone cancers, along with soft tissue sarcomas.

Research is being conducted with funding from the National Institutes of Health.