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Radiology Today
E-Newsletter    February 2024
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Editor's E-Note

MRI is a rapidly evolving modality. Although the underlying technology is well established, advances in speed and utility are transforming medical care. In this month’s issue, we’re highlighting a novel use of MRI to allow real-time imaging during proton therapy delivery.

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— Dave Yeager, editor
In This E-Newsletter
E-News Exclusive
Prototype for High-Contrast Live Imaging in Proton Therapy

On January 9, 2024, a scientific prototype for MRI-guided proton therapy was inaugurated in Dresden. With this installation, experts from the fields of medicine, medical physics, biology, and engineering are embarking on the scientific testing of a new form of radiotherapy for treating cancer. For the first time globally, a full-body MRI device for real-time imaging is combined with a proton therapy system in the form of a prototype. The inauguration ceremony was held at OncoRay – National Center for Radiation Research in Oncology with Saxony’s Minister-President Michael Kretschmer present. After demonstrating the technical feasibility of using a compact MRI device without real-time imaging with a predecessor prototype financed by the Sächsische Aufbaubank in 2019, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) has now financed the development of a pioneering full-body MRI device with real-time imaging. The infrastructure, as well as a number of personnel, are provided by the Dresden University Medical Center.

The aim of the Saxon physicians, together with scientists from the HZDR and the Dresden University Medical Center, is to monitor cancer patients during their radiation treatment using real-time MRI imaging and thus significantly improve the targeting accuracy of proton therapy. A globally unique combination of a full-body MRI machine that rotates around the patient for real-time imaging and a proton therapy system was created in Dresden. Scientific operation has now begun in January 2024.

The MRI’s advantage over conventional imaging modalities is that it can visualize the tumor in higher contrast. This makes it possible to better delineate the tumor from surrounding healthy tissue and define the volume to be irradiated more accurately. Furthermore, MRI imaging can visualize any potential changes in the shape and size of the volume to be irradiated between consecutive radiation sessions. This enables the beam application to be adjusted individually and immediately. In addition, it allows real-time MRI imaging to visualize tumor movement during a radiation session and to synchronize it with the radiation application. The prototype that has now been installed will be the first of its kind globally to investigate the extent to which the accuracy of proton therapy can be improved with the help of full-body real-time MRI imaging.

Other Imaging News
Novel MRI Shows Positive Results in Treating Depression
Researchers from the University of Nottingham found that using a novel technique that delivers magnetic stimulation to the brain via MRI could improve symptoms of depression.

New Breast Cancer Detection Method Reduces False-Positives
In a study published in Radiology: Imaging Cancer, low-dose positron emission mammography, a novel molecular imaging technique, has the potential to detect breast cancer with reduced false positives.

Imaging One Week Post-Melanoma Treatment Could Lead to Longer Survival
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found that tumors can “light up” the week following melanoma treatment, which could lead to follow-up treatment that can increase survival.
Worth Repeating
“Patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer face significant challenges when standard-of-care treatments fail. For these individuals, options become limited, emphasizing the urgent need for innovative approaches. Our study represents a promising advancement in addressing this unmet need and holds the potential to offer more effective therapeutic strategies to improve outcomes for this population.”

— John Heymach, MD, PhD, chair of thoracic/head and neck medical oncology for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and one author of a study on targeted therapy and immunotherapy for patients with immune resistance in nonsmall cell lung cancer
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