New $4.2M research center at U-M seeks to see cancer more clearly

Imaging studies will focus in part on detecting cancer and tracking how well treatment works

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Cancer often lurks deep inside the body, going undetected and untreated far too long. Even after it's discovered and treatment begins, doctors may not be able to tell for months if their efforts are working well enough or at all.

Now, a new research center at the University of Michigan Health System will tackle these crucial issues using sophisticated medical imaging technology. With $4.2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, U-M researchers will study new ways to see cancer and the effects of treatment better and faster than ever before.

They'll also use imaging techniques to spot important molecular events during cancer's growth, perhaps laying the groundwork for new therapies.

Called a center for molecular imaging, the effort involves faculty from the U-M Medical School's departments of Radiology, Radiation Oncology, and other disciplines involved in cancer and medical imaging. Based within the UMHS Comprehensive Cancer Center, it will build on existing imaging capabilities there by adding new equipment and staff.

The center will allow scientists to see cancer in animals non-invasively using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS), positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT) and a new technique based on the compound that makes fireflies glow. The U-M is the first academic institution in the world to acquire a Xenogen bioluminescence scanner.

"We hope to combine recent advances in medical imaging with new knowledge about cancer's molecular workings to give physicians and patients the information they need to prevent, find and treat cancer faster and more effectively," says associate professor of radiology Brian Ross, Ph.D., who will co-direct the center's efforts along with Alnawaz Rehemtulla, assistant professor of radiation oncology.

The U-M center i

Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System

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