A joint project with Emory University will improve the groundbreaking spectroscopic MRI technology and make it easier to use.
Researchers at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller College of Medicine share a five-year, $3.3 million National Institutes of Health grant with Emory University to study and make spectroscopic MRI (sMRI) easier to use To do. This advanced imaging tool helps clinicians detect and potentially eradicate glioblastoma, a highly deadly brain tumor.
Developed primarily at the University of Miami, spectroscopic MRI is a method of investigating metabolites in the brain and creating maps of those metabolites. Glioblastomas have specific metabolic changes that spectroscopic MRI can detect, and have been shown to reveal hidden cancers that other techniques cannot. ”
Eric A. Mellon, MD, Ph.D., Co-Leader of Sylvester’s Neurologic Cancer Site Disease Group, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and Biomedical Engineering at the Miller School, and Co-Principal Investigator of the Grant
With a 5-year survival rate of less than 10%, glioblastoma is one of the deadliest cancers. These tumors can be particularly challenging because they are difficult to find and treat completely. As a result, tiny remnants can seed the brain for future relapses. Spectroscopic MRI gives doctors an excellent tool to find more cancers and remove them surgically or kill them with radiation therapy.
“Reading What’s Actually Happening”
For Dr. Mellon, a radiologist, sMRI may increase the dose of radiation to newly detected tumor sites, expanding the ability to provide more comprehensive treatment. Healthy brain tissue can tolerate radiation better than tumors, even at higher doses. But first, radiation oncologists must locate all cancers. sMRI may be the answer.
Sulaiman Sheriff, senior project manager on Sylvester’s sMRI team, said: “That’s what spectroscopy can provide. You can read what’s really going on in the brain.”
Yet the same precision that makes sMRI such a powerful tool for detecting brain tumors makes it difficult to deploy. This technique produces large multi-gigabyte files that need to be processed and interpreted. This is a large computational effort. As a result, only a few cancer centers such as Sylvester, Emory and Johns Hopkins have these capabilities.
“The grant aims to increase the utility of this technique so that it can be adopted by more institutions,” said Dr. Mellon. “Acquiring and processing the data requires considerable training and experience. We are working with the scanner manufacturer Siemens to make the process as simple as possible. A built-in, minimally trained team just needs to push a button.”
Improved detection and treatment
The research team has already made great strides, reducing processing times from hours to minutes. They employed advanced computational approaches to further reduce these times.
“We employ a purely statistical, iterative process and apply deep learning,” Sheriff said, referring to one of the key steps in the process, which is the most time and computationally intensive. “You can now process these files in about a minute or seconds with comparable, or in some cases better, results.”
The study is consistent with several clinical trials Dr. Mellon and colleagues are conducting to improve detection and treatment of glioblastoma. A recent study by Sylvester, Emory, and Johns Hopkins showed that increased radiation dose informed by sMRI improved patient survival. The researchers plan to conduct a larger follow-up study to validate these results.
Dr. Mellon is also enrolling patients in a clinical trial combining the cancer drug Avastin with proton beams. Proton beams can be more precisely focused on tumor tissue, leaving healthy cells relatively unharmed. is essential to
“We hope to use spectroscopic MRI guidance to treat as many diseases as we can find and improve survival,” said Dr. Mellon. “Radiation oncologists have been reluctant to apply higher doses due to possible side effects. But glioblastoma kills everyone affected. We have to spread it out.”
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center