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Decoding gene expression in cancer tumors using noninvasive imaging

By correlating images of cancerous liver tissue with gene expression patterns, a research team led by a radiologist at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine has developed tools that may some day allow physicians to view a CT image of a cancer tumor and discern its genetic activity. The study, designed to help doctors obtain the molecular details of a specific tumor or disease without having to do an invasive biopsy procedure, will be published online on May 21 in Nature Biotechnology.

According to principle investigator Michael Kuo, M.D., assistant professor of interventional radiology at UCSD, the study represents the convergence of two developing fields of medical research: the mapping of the human genome and advances in diagnostic imaging.

The research team, which included investigators from Stanford University School of Medicine, systematically compared features from CT images of liver tumors with gene expression patterns obtained from surgery and tissue biopsies. Once they pinpointed the genomic correlates of the features detected by CT imaging, the researchers found that the two very different aspects of studying cancer how the tumor looks in a CT scan and how it behaves on a molecular level had a very strong connection.

"We studied what the various genes were doing and the biological activity they were involved in such as angiogenesis or cell growth. We also looked at how the genes contributed to a particular phenotype in the liver tumor seen on the CT scans, for example, the presence of characteristics vessels, or the tumor's texture and other important diagnostic imaging traits," said Kuo.

The research process sought to reveal the relationship between genetic activity patterns in liver tumors and the tumor's appearance on CT scans, and provide a simple means of translation. The scientists initially began with approximately 135 basic tumor descriptors, and then narrowed down th
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Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
21-May-2007


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