A cancer researcher at Case Western Reserve University has developed a GPS map to guide navigation devices evidencing 90% accuracy in pinpointing brain tumors. The new technology will be put to the test in clinical trials with patients at Cleveland Clinic under a three-year, $600,000 V Foundation grant.

The Investigators

Pallavi Tiwari, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve—with dual appointments in the School of Medicine and Case School of Engineering, as well as Alireza Mohammadi, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Cleveland Clinic—has won the $600,000 grant for the clinical trial.

The V Foundation

Named for former basketball coach Jim Valvano, the foundation funds innovative cancer research. It has awarded more than $200 million since being founded in 1993—the year coach Valvano died from adeno carcinoma.

The Present Challenge

The present day approach to managing the treatment of a brain tumor patients is imprecise: a post-operative MRI scan can’t effectively discern whether cancer has returned or if the lesion has been alerted by what neurologists call a “benign treatment effort,” reports the Daily Case. Consequently, radiation effects as well as tumor recurrence exhibit comparable symptoms and appearances.

Moreover, today the only real option is a highly invasive biopsy—just for confirmation of disease presence. Each biopsy totals about $20,000 to $50,000 per patient. Moreover, Tiwari reported that over 15% of those patients who undergo a second biopsy unfortunately will get an incorrect diagnosis.

The Potential Solution

The team, led by Tiwari, developed new image-based biomarkers taken from standard MRI scans in the quest to differentiate between the two conditions with a purported accuracy of 92% on about 200 cases to date—this is phenomenal if accurate. Called a “GPS map” or “heat map” for the brain, it is expected to evidence—by use of colors—which part of a tumor has a recurrence of cancer or rather help the investigator determine if it was altered by the radiation.

Tiwari reports they will “use the routinely acquired MRI scans, feed them into their computational algorithm and create a GPS map that the surgeon can use—one that will have a heat map of ‘hot-spots’ for cancer to guide him or her in finding the correct biopsy site within the location.” If this experimental product works, it can save patients significant money.

The Study

Although they have done a first piece of this research via retrospective study—reviewing the cases in which the investigators new the outcome—now they must validate in clinical trials, reports Mohammadi. The Case Western and Cleveland Clinic team plan on starting clinical trials in late 2021 or early 2022. In the interim, they will obsessively focus on perfecting the computational algorithms across multi-institutional data.

Lead Research/Investigator

Pallavi Tiwari, Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics in Biomedical Engineering and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at the School of Medicine

Alireza Mohammadi, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Cleveland Clinic

Call to Action: This study will probably commence in 2021. Sign up for the TrialSite News Daily Digest for any updates.

Source: Case Western Reserve University

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