Cleveland Researchers Test New Way to Detect Prostate Cancer Without Biopsy

Case researchers are testing a new MRI imaging technology that would allow doctors to detect prostate cancer tumors in a non-invasive way. [Pressmaster / Shutterstock]
Case researchers are testing a new MRI imaging technology that would allow doctors to detect prostate cancer tumors in a non-invasive way. [Pressmaster / Shutterstock]
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Prostate cancer affects 1 in 8 men, but according to experts, current diagnosis tools are limited and invasive.

Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) researchers hope to improve outcomes through a new tool that could accurately detect prostate cancer using non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.

Zheng-Rong Lu, a biomedical engineering professor at CWRU, invented a new imaging technology called MT218, which can be used in MRIs to not only detect prostate cancer tumors but could allow doctors to analyze their aggressiveness, he said.

“There’s no tumor-specific contrast agent for MRI at this moment, so we’re pretty excited about this,” Lu said.

Contrast agents are substances used in MRIs to enhance the quality of the images.

Currently, the most common way to find out the aggressiveness of tumors is through biopsies, which are invasive procedures, Lu said.

In addition, many prostate cancer tumors are not life-threatening, so a biopsy may not be necessary in the first place, he added.

This new tool would allow doctors to accurately analyze the tumors and determine the best treatment options through MRIs, which are less invasive, Lu said.

“Hopefully we can minimize these aggressive procedures,” he said.

The tool would be able to help doctors with diagnosis as well as prognosis, Lu added.

“Differentiation of tumor aggressiveness is very important for personalized treatment of cancer because everyone’s cancer is different,” he said. “If we can help doctors figure out whose tumor is aggressive and whose is not, it will help the patient a lot.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently greenlighted a Phase I clinical trial to test the safety of this technology in humans. Researchers are expected to recruit 30 Black and white males between the ages of 18 and 55 for the study, Lu said.

“African Americans have a higher tendency to develop aggressive prostate cancers. That’s why we [included] both African Americans and white Americans,” Lu said.

“Ideally, in the later phases, we would like to include more ethnicities,” he said.

While the tool was developed specifically for prostate cancer, researchers hope to test it for other cancers in the future, he added.

The clinical trial is set to begin in late May.

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