Glioblastomas are the most common and aggressive brain tumor in humans, with a high rate of relapse. These tumor cells often extend beyond the well-defined tumor margins making it extremely difficult for clinicians and radiologists to visualize with current imaging techniques.
Researchers have been investigating enhanced methods of attacking these cells in order to possibly delay or prevent brain tumor relapse.
In a study, the VCU research team has demonstrated that a nanoparticle containing an MRI diagnostic agent can effectively be imaged within the brain tumor and provide radiation therapy in an animal model.
The research team was led by Panos Fatouros, a former professor and chair of the division of Radiation Physics and Biology in the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine.
The nanoparticle filled with gadolinium, a sensitive MRI contrast agent for imaging, and coupled with radioactive lutetium 177 to deliver brachytherapy, is known as a theranostic agent - a single compound capable of delivering simultaneously effective treatment and imaging. The lutetium 177 is attached to the outside of the carbon cage of the nanoparticle.
â€œWe believe the clustering properties of this nanoplatform prolong its retention within the tumor, thereby allowing a higher radiation dose to be delivered locally,â€ said Michael Shultz, a research fellow in Fatourosâ€™ lab in the Department of Radiology in the VCU School of Medicine.
â€œThis theranostic agent could potentially provide critical data about tumor response to therapy by means of longitudinal imaging without further contrast administration,â€ said Fatouros.
A nanoparticle called a functionalized metallofullerene, also known as a buckyball, served as the basis of this work and was created by study collaborator, Harry Dorn, a chemistry professor at Virginia Tech, and his team.
â€œAlthough this is a limited animal study, it shows great promise and hopefully this metallofullerene platform will be extended to humans,â€ said Dorn.
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