MRI drug boosts chemotherapy says study

In collaboration with the Press Association

A chemical used to enhance medical scans may also boost the potency of chemotherapy, scientists have suggested.

Mangafodipir is routinely given to patients before MRI scans, to help the scans highlight tissues and organs.

Now new research has found that it could also help chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells while simultaneously protecting healthy ones.

The research was carried out by researchers at the Groupe hospitalier Cochin-Saint Vincent de Paul in Paris and is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study compared the performance of three chemotherapy drugs, paclitaxel, oxaliplatin, and 5-fluorouracil, with and without mangafodipir, on tumour cells and on healthy blood cells and also in rats with transplanted tumours.

They found that mangafodipir prevented chemotherapy drugs from damaging white blood cells, and helped them kill cancer cells.

The team also found that rats undergoing chemotherapy were much more resistant to infection, suggesting that mangafodipir was protecting their immune system from damage.

In these rats, mangafodipir enhanced the effectiveness of chemotherapy, mimicking the results of the experiments on cells.

"Mangafodipir was developed in the early nineties and has a good track record in cancer diagnosis," said Cancer Research UK science information officer Henry Scowcroft.

"We welcome the discovery that this well-understood and tolerated chemical can increase the effectiveness of conventional chemotherapy.

"These exciting preliminary results now need to be followed up in further trials, to make sure that the chemical is as safe when used for treating cancers as it is for helping detect them."

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