Scientists develop way to predict chemotherapy effectiveness

In collaboration with the Press Association

Researchers have developed a non-invasive method of predicting whether chemotherapy is likely to be effective against a particular tumour.

Chemotherapy delivered intravenously into the blood stream is the main treatment for many cancers, but its results can be inconsistent - sometimes producing a complete cure and other times having almost no effect at all.

Scientists at the Weizmann Institute in Israel now say that they have produced a method of helping doctors to predict whether chemotherapy will be effective.

Intravenous infusions of chemotherapy are dependent on blood travelling round the body under pressure in order to reach their target and enter it.

Some tumours however, have an unusually high internal pressure, meaning that it is difficult for the chemotherapy drugs to enter.

The Weizmann Institute team say that they have developed an MRI-based method that is able to measure the internal pressure of tumours.

Using an animal model, the team were able to use a MRI-sensitive dye to mimic the movement of chemotherapy drugs through the blood stream.

Using MRI, they were able to see where the dye had travelled to, and how this related to the pressure in different tissues and in tumours.

They then used this data to develop a computer programme to predict how the pressure in a tumour could predict response to treatment.

Crucially for future treatment, lead researcher professor Hadassa Degani suggested that it may be possible to lower the internal blood pressure in tumours before chemotherapy.

The trial is reported in the journal Cancer Research.

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