SUMMARY OF INVENTION
Macrophages are white blood cells that have been described to be drivers and biomarkers of many cancers, including prostate cancer. Assessment of macrophage infiltration in tumors has been linked to disease outcome and therapeutic tumor response, but usually requires invasive biopsies to be performed.
MSK has developed a novel and noninvasive imagining technique that allows scientists to visualize macrophages in tumors without the requirement of contrast agents or biopsies. This technique, called FeMRI, measures the innate iron concentration of such tumor-associated macrophages and can generate a biopsy-like report on such macrophages solely based on calculating the cells’ natural iron content as acquired by standard imaging technologies.
This virtual biopsy technique can enable clinicians to better tailor treatments to individual patients as well as to facilitate monitoring of treatment effectiveness in real-time. The feasibility of an iron measurement-based approach to imaging macrophages has been demonstrated at MSK in metastatic breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Enables noninvasive detection of iron concentration and tumor-associated macrophages
Permits quantitative cellular imaging, with or without contrast agents
Software can be used with existing technology (such as current MRI equipment)
Algorithm can be adapted to visualize other cell types
MSK’s virtual biopsy technology has a large potential market, including for use in breast, pancreatic, prostate, brain, lung, and skin cancers. The FeMRI also could be utilized for imaging nanoparticles, characterizing iron-related blood disorders such as anemia, and detecting iron deposits in the brain which are associated with many neurodegenerative diseases. Other potential uses included the monitoring of tumor-associated macrophages as a biomarker for disease progression or response, especially in immunotherapy trials.
AREAS OF APPLICATION
Tested applications include: breast, pancreatic, prostate, brain, lung, and skin cancers; nanoparticle-enhanced MRI imaging; hematological imaging.
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT
Jason Koutcher, MD, PhD, Chief, Imaging and Spectroscopic Physics Service, Memorial Hospital, MSK
Avigdor Leftin, PhD, Research Fellow, Department of Medical Physics, Sloan-Kettering Institute, MSK
Alexandra Buga, MS, MBA