A type of light commonly seen in astrophysics experiments and nuclear reactors can help detect cancer. In a clinical trial, a prototype imaging machine based on this usually bluish light, called Cerenkov radiation, worked successfully. captured the presence and location of tumors from cancer patients, researchers report April 11 in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Compared with standard scans of tumors, Cerenkov light imaging was rated “acceptable” or better for 90 percent of patients, says Magdalena Skubal, a cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at the New York City.
Cerenkov radiation is generated by high-speed particles. traveling faster than light through a material, such as body tissue (Serial number: 5/8/21). In Cerenkov luminescence imaging, or CLI, the particles released by the radiotracers cause the target tissue to vibrate and relax in a way that emits light, which is then captured by a camera.
Between May 2018 and March 2020, in the largest clinical trial of its kind to date, 96 participants underwent both CLI and standard imaging, such as positron emission tomography/computed tomography or PET/CT. Participants with a variety of diagnoses, including lymphoma, thyroid cancer and metastatic prostate cancer, were given one of five radiotracers and then photographed by the prototype: a camera in a light-proof enclosure.
Skubal and colleagues found that CLI detected all radiotracers, suggesting that the technology is more versatile than PET/CT scans, which work with only a few radiotracers.
CLI images are not as accurate as PET/CT scans. But CLI could be used as an initial diagnostic test or to assess the overall size of a tumor undergoing treatment, says study co-author Edwin Pratt, also of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “It would be a quick and easy way to see if there is something wrong… [that warrants] more research,” says Pratt.
The findings strengthen the case for the technology as a promising low-cost alternative that could expand access to nuclear imaging in hospitals, says Antonello Spinelli, a preclinical imaging scientist at the Center for Experimental Imaging in Milan, Italy, who was not involved in the study. research.