One of the most difficult aspects of cancer diagnosis is determining whether the cancer has begun to spread or ‘metastasize’ from its initial or ‘primary’ tumor site to other areas. The treatment options can be very different depending on the answer to this question.
In this story, Ralph Weissleder and Mukesh Harisinghani tell how they collaborated on the design of a clinical trial to determine if an injection of specially-designed iron-oxide nanoparticles could enhance a diagnostic image produced by an MRI machine to the extent that the spread of cancer could be accurately assessed.
At least in the case of prostate cancer, as Dr. Weissleder tells our producer in this story, “The results were stunning.”
This iron-oxide nanoparticle enhanced MRI diagnostic technique is one of many exciting new applications of nanotechnology to the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer currently under investigation.
A good website to learn about other research is nano.cancer.gov. The iron-oxide nanoparticle diagnostic system (which also goes by the trade name Combidex®) has not yet been approved for use in the United States. For a blog discussion on issues involving Combidex approval, go to: Prostate Cancer Infolink.