New Imaging Technique Measures Breast Cancer Metabolism

New Imaging Technique Measures Breast Cancer Metabolism
A new imaging technique that uses magnetized particles to see in real time which regions of a tumor are active is feasible in breast cancer, a small study shows. The technology, if used along with existing clinical tools, could allow for more individualized treatments and earlier detection of responses to treatment. The study, "Imaging breast cancer using hyperpolarized carbon-13 MRI," was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Cancer cells are defined by their constant state of growth, and growing at such a high rate requires a lot of energy. That means tumor cells have a metabolic profile distinct from other types of cells in the body; this metabolic shift is called the Warburg effect. Tumor cells get much of their energy through lactate fermentation, which involves the conversion of the molecule pyruvate into lactate. Because metabolism affects tumor growth so profoundly, understanding the metabolic profile of a given tumor could provide valuable prognostic information. However, actually measuring a tumor's metabolism in a clinical setting hasn't been technologically feasible until recently. The researchers used a technique called carbon-13 magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) to assess the metabolism of breast tumors. They used carbon-13 pyruvate, a form of pyruvate that is slightly heavier than the most common form that occurs in nature. By cooling it to extremely low temperatures and exposing it to a st
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