A dual imaging modality to improve ovarian cancer treatment

The nanosized liposome contains both a fluorescent dye and magnetic resonance agent

December 18, 2019
Author: Holly Ober
December 18, 2019

Bahman Anvari, a professor of bioengineering in the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering, has received a $300,000 Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research, or EAGER, grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a dual imaging technique for improved staging and localization of ovarian cancer before and during surgery. The project is a collaboration with Vikas Kundra, a radiologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Bahman Anvari

The proposed approach uses a fluorescent dye embedded in a nanosized liposome that glows when a light shines on it, and can be viewed optically. It provides information about the size of tumor nodules smaller than 1 millimeter that cannot be otherwise be visualized accurately by current imaging methods. The same liposomal construct is also loaded with a magnetic resonance agent so that MRI can be used for determining the stage of development and pinpointing the precise location. 

“Using dual imaging modalities you can determine the stage and how widely spread the cancer is,” Anvari said.

Fluorescence imaging has better resolution and can spot tiny tumors that MRI can’t see, which makes it useful during surgery. Surgeons can shine a light while they are operating and fluorescence will help them find small tumors to remove.

The new dual imaging modality could reduce the number of surgeries required to remove ovarian tumors by making it possible to locate and stage them accurately before surgery and ensuring that anything missed by the MRI is located during the surgery. The dual imaging modality will be tested in mice.