Visualizing Cancer: Images of tumors can detect gene expression

12:17pm, May 30, 2007

Radiologists have found a way to use X-ray scans to identify which genes in a tumor are active.

The ability to glean genetic information about tumors from routine medical imagery could increase the use of cancer therapies that target a tumor's genetic quirks. Targeted therapies promise better cancer treatments with fewer side effects than current approaches do. But doctors rarely profile a tumor's genes, in part because it's expensive to do and requires surgical removal of tissue.

"Genetic analysis of tumors is not usually done, but the first thing a doctor will do to a cancer patient is give them [an X-ray] scan," says Michael Kuo of the University of California, San Diego, a coleader of the study. The new technique infers gene activity from such scans and so "lets us see gene expression of a tumor in a noninvasive way."

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