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July 07, 2011

Imaging Technology Developed at Mellon College of Science To Be Used in Cancer Clinical Trial

MRIA novel technology developed by Carnegie Mellon scientist Eric Ahrens will soon allow doctors to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to monitor, in patients, the delivery of a dendritic cell vaccine for treating colorectal cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the technology’s use in a Phase I clinical trial at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

The dendritic cell vaccine is one of many types of cellular therapies that use modified cells — often a patient’s own cells — to fight disease. One of the greatest bottlenecks to such therapies is that there has been no way to monitor where in the body these specialized cells travel. Ahrens’ cellular MRI technology, known by the trade name “Cell Sense,” overcomes this obstacle by allowing researchers to safely monitor where such cells travel throughout the living body.

“Our technology gives us a surrogate biomarker that provides visual evidence that the cells have gotten to where they need to be,” said Ahrens, associate professor of biological sciences. “In this case, we want the therapeutic cells to migrate to the lymph nodes and activate an immune response.”

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New MRI innovation visualizes cellular events in the body. Photo Credit: Frank Harris