Thursday, October 13, 2011

Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy to Monitor Tumor Metabolism: Not a Biomarker Yet But a Promising Concept

In the October 12th issue of PLos One, Alessia Lodi and Sabrina Ronen from UCSF published the results of their work on the use of Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) to monitor the metabolic activity of tumor cells (link).  Although this work was entirely conducted in vitro on cell lines, the concept presented in this paper offer a glimpse at a possible new approach to monitor drug effect early during treatment.  Indeed, there is ample evidence that anti-cancer drugs alter the metabolic profile of cancer cells before producing detectable effects on tumor size (detectable by CT scan or MRI) or even overall metabolic activity (detectable by FDG-PET).

The utility of MRS to monitor early metabolic changes induced by drugs in cancer cells has been demonstrated before.  However, these earlier studies focused on single metabolites which limited their observations to the specific drug – cell combination studied.  In this work, the authors expanded on earlier work MRS use for the monitoring of cancer cell metabolism by used an unbiased 1H MRS-based metabolomics approach to investigate the overall metabolic consequences of treatment with the phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor LY294002 and the heat shock protein 90 inhibitor 17AAG in prostate and breast cancer cell lines.

Obviously, translating this concept to human patients, in which complexity will be several orders of magnitude greater, will not be easy but one can speculate that as MRS technology further progresses, tracking multiple metabolites in vivo will become trivial. 

Thierry Sornasse for Integrated Biomarker Strategy

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