RSNA Research Scholar Grant Update: Gene Expression Profiling in Cancer Patients

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Michael S. Gee, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Radiology, was the 2010 recipient of the two-year Carestream Health/RSNA Research Scholar Grant Award. He is studying “Evaluation of Diagnostic Magnetic Resonance (DMR) Technology for Molecular Characterization of Cancer Cells from Percutaneous Image-Guided Biopsy Specimens.”

At RSNA 2011, Dr. Gee discussed the progress his research is making in gene expression profiling in cancer patients, the human trials that will begin shortly and what that can mean for future treatments and care.

Since its inception, the R&E Foundation’s mission Foundation has funded nearly 900 grants totaling well over $34 million. Each and every day at institutions throughout North America and abroad, young investigators supported by the R&E Foundation are performing vital research aimed to improve clinical care and patient outcomes, and ensure the future of the specialty.

More detail – from the 2011 Foundation Booklet – about Dr. Gee’s research can be found below:

“The capability to perform real-time molecular analysis of human tumors is expected to enable rational treatment decisions in an era where molecularly targeted therapies are emerging. Attempts to profile cancer cells to date largely have been unsuccessful, as existing clinical technologies are either too insensitive to distinguish biomarker expression levels or lead to alterations in tumor cell phenotype, precluding accurate assessment. We have developed a novel, broadly applicable, point-of-care method of diagnostic magnetic resonance (DMR) that overcomes many of these limitations.

The technology utilizes magnetic resonance techniques confined within a chip-sized micro-NMR device to measure the relaxation time of tumor cell fine needle aspiration samples. The molecular specificity of DMR is achieved through magnetic nanoparticles that act as proximity sensors for specific molecular targets. We have used this exquisitely sensitive technology to measure DNA and mRNA, cancer cells, proteins, enzymes, metabolites, drug concentrations, and bacteria. In preliminary experiments, we have demonstrated the ability of DMR to profile expression of multiple biomarkers on individual cancer cells simultaneously, with molecular sensitivity reaching 10–14 M, better than conventional techniques such as flow cytometry. The overall goal of this proposal is to evaluate whether DMR can perform real-time molecular analysis of biomarkers on human cancer cells isolated from percutaneous image-guided fine needle aspiration, and to determine whether DMR can be used to determine tumor susceptibility to molecularly targeted treatments.”


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