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Weizmann scientists invention moves forward: Cancer diagnosis technique gets FDA clearance

Rehovot, Israel--September 23, 2003-- Thanks to a diagnostic imaging technique that should soon be finding its way to medical establishments, many patients could be spared the pain and risk of biopsies. The technique, called 3TP, has recently received FDA clearance for use in the detection of breast and prostate cancer, and is slated for distribution as early as next year. It will enable doctors to distinguish between malignant tumors and benign lumps by scanning instead of cutting.

3TP (Three Time Point) makes use of existing MRI scanners, and a safe contrast agent that is injected into the patient. The suspected tumor site is scanned by MRI repeatedly over a period of several minutes. The software developed for the method analyzes three of the MRI images, one before and two after the injection (hence the name 3TP), and then creates a colored likeness of the breast or prostate area based on the resulting data. A preponderance of red in the picture indicates malignancy, while mainly blue and green are signs of a benign growth.

The procedure, developed by Prof. Hadassa Degani and her research group at the Weizmann Institute of Science Biological Regulation Dept., arose from her research on the development of cancerous tumors. Typically, malignancies, which need a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to grow, contain many small, new blood vessels. Blood flow in and out of the area of the tumor is usually accelerated. Tumor cells are distributed unevenly, with areas of densely packed cells that have tighter between-cell spaces than normal.

In order to obtain the 3TP image, the contrast agent, which enhances the MRI images, is injected into the bloodstream, and the flow of the agent into the area being scanned is traced. The agent, which quickly passes through the blood, will enter and clear out of a cancerous tumor faster, and contrast agent escaping vessel walls (new blood vessels tend to leak) will be highlighted, along with the
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Contact: Alex Smith
Alex_smith@margeotes.com
212-460-0563
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
22-Sep-2003


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