MRI scanner steers cancer-killing virus inside the body

"The beauty of using the MRI scanner to administer the therapy is that you can also use it for its original purpose, providing a real-time image-guide to ensure the treatment has gone where it is needed," says Munitta Muthana. (Credit: iStockphoto)

MRI scanners, normally used to take detailed images inside the body, can noninvasively steer tumor-busting therapies to target sites.

Cell-based therapies, which exploit modified human cells to treat diseases such as cancer, have advanced in recent years. However, targeted application of cell-based therapy in specific tissues, such as those deep in the body where injection is not possible, has remained problematic.

A new study published in Nature Communications suggests MRI scanners are the key to administering treatments directly to both primary and secondary tumors wherever they are located.

Researchers found that cancer mouse models injected with immune cells carrying tiny super-paramagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIOs) and armed with the cancer-killing oncolytic virus showed an 800 percent increase in the effects of the therapy.

“Our results suggest that it is possible to use a standard MRI scanner to naturally deliver cell-based therapies to both primary and secondary tumors, which would normally be impossible to reach by injection,” says study leader Munitta Muthana from the University of Sheffield’s oncology department.

[related]

“This not only increases the therapeutic efficacy but also decreases the risk of unwanted side effects.

“The beauty of using the MRI scanner to administer the therapy is that you can also use it for its original purpose, providing a real-time image-guide to ensure the treatment has gone where it is needed.”

The Medical Research Council funded the study, which was conducted in collaboration with University College London and University College London Comprehensive Cancer Imaging Centre and the University of Florida.

Source: University of Sheffield