Novel MRI tech for aggressive brain tumours gets funding boost


Monday, 16 May, 2022

Novel MRI tech for aggressive brain tumours gets funding boost

Australian cancer diagnostics company Ferronova and the University of South Australia are developing a novel technology designed to precisely image aggressive brain cancers and guide treatment.

The new MRI nanotechnology targets a specific marker that is found in more than 90% of solid tumours, including high-grade brain cancers.

UniSA’s Dr Nicole Dmochowska, who will lead the research, supported by a REDI Fellowship, said there is a critical need for better imaging of high-grade brain tumours. The technology is said to have yielded promising preclinical results in a prostate cancer model and the new funding will progress the technology towards a first in-human trial.

“The prognosis for high-grade brain tumours such as glioblastoma remains abysmal, so it’s vital that we progress new technologies that can potentially enable more precise targeting of tumours,” Dmochowska said. The technology has been developed in collaboration with Ferronova, with the support of the NeuroSurgical Research Foundation.

Dr Hien Le, a radiation oncologist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and one of the Chief Investigators in the seed funding for this work, said the research has potential to advance cancer treatments.

“As someone who specialises in the management of brain cancer, I understand the importance of accurate tumour delineation,” Le said.

“Better imaging means we can more confidently define the tumour target, facilitating precise treatment delivery, whilst minimising damage to normal healthy tissues.”

In 2021, there were 1896 new diagnoses of brain cancer (1191 males and 725 females). Glioblastoma is the most common brain malignancy with a five-year survival rate of only 5%. Dr Melanie Nelson, R&D Manager at Ferronova, said the research will streamline preclinical validations for the technology for brain tumours in preparation for a phase 1 ‘first in human’ clinical trial.

“The new technology builds on Ferronova’s cancer staging technology FerroTrace currently undergoing clinical trials in several cancer types,” Nelson said.

“By bringing together the best minds in chemistry, bioengineering and oncology we’re continuing to push the boundaries to help make sure no one dies unnecessarily because a cancer was missed.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/royaltystockphoto

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