New technique diagnoses brain cancers non-invasively

Washington: A new technique diagnoses brain tumours non-invasively, eliminating the need for surgery in patients whose tumours are located in areas too dangerous for biopsy.

The new magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) technique provides a definitive diagnosis of cancer, based on imaging a protein tied with mutated gene, found in 80 percent of low-and intermediate-grade gliomas (brain or spinal cancers).

"To our knowledge, this is the only direct metabolic consequence of a genetic mutation in a cancer cell that can be identified through noninvasive imaging," said Elizabeth Maher, associate professor of internal medicine at University of Texas Southwestern and senior study author, the journal Nature Medicine reports.

Texas researchers developed the test by modifying the settings of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to track the protein`s levels, according to a Texas statement.

The data acquisition and analysis procedure was developed by Changho Choi, associate professor of the Advanced Imaging Research Center (AIRC) and radiology, who led the study.

Previous research linked high levels of this protein to the mutation (change), and Texas researchers already had been working on MRS of gliomas to find tumour biomarkers.

"Our next step is to make this testing procedure widely available as part of routine MRIs for brain tumors. It doesn`t require any injections or special equipment," said Maher, medical director of UT Southwestern`s neuro-oncology program.