An Academic-Industry Partnership (AIP) led by Dartmouth researchers received a $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a superior breast diagnostic technology. More specifically, the team seeks to pursue the idea of developing a multi-model breast imaging platform that simultaneously uses Microwave and Magnetic Resource Imaging (aMMRI), a first in the field.

Why do a Biopsy if No Cancer?

Assuming that when most people undergo breast biopsies, they don’t have cancer, reports Cancer.org. Hence, a team of researchers seek to minimize the number of unnecessary techniques using an innovative technique combining two commonly-used methods. This approach, if it works, could streamline the diagnostic process by producing substantially cleared imaging for doctors. This could lead to more accurate diagnoses and reduced anxiety in patients.

Challenge with Current Approach

The MRI, while producing high-resolution images, offers weak specificity or as multi-Principal Investigator (PI) Paul Meaney reports, “it’s hard to determine if a suspicious area is malignant, while microwave imaging provides images with remarkable specificity, but suffers from poor resolution.” But what if the methods could be combined so that the best features of both technologies produces a compelling result? This is desired by difficult to accomplish.

Other challenges with the status quo today include gadolinium, a contract agent commonly used in MRIs has come under FDA scrutiny as it has been revealed that it can remain in patients’ bodies, even their brains, for years after receiving the drug.

The Collaboration

The Dartmouth team has partnered with experts at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Quality Electrodynamics (QED), a subsidiary of Canon Inc. that will create custom equipment, as standard equipment has provided inadequate for the researchers’ needs. This novel new developed, a machine, would transmit about one milliwatt of microwave power, equivalent to less than one-thousandth of what a smart phone emits.   

“The opportunity to potentially eliminate the need for gadolinium contrast injection would be fantastic for patients,” said multi-PI Keith Paulsen, the Robert A. Pritzker Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Dartmouth. “We’re hoping that our results are very positive and that this process could be commercialized so women would have access to it across the country.”

Lead Research/Investigator

Keith Paulsen, Professor Biomedical Engineering                                                                                                           

Paul Meaney, Professor Engineering, Dartmouth

Source: EurekAlert!

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