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Grant funds new system to diagnose and treat lung cancer on-the-spot
The Methodist Hospital Research Institute receives CPRIT grant

Houston, TX - 1/21/2010

Scientists at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston received a research grant from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) today to develop the first molecular image guided system to diagnose and treat small-cell peripheral lung cancer in one sitting.

"Despite our best efforts to accurately diagnose and treat lung cancer, it is still the most common cause of cancer-related death in America," said Dr. Stephen Wong, principle investigator for the study and director of the Center for Biotechnology and Informatics at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute. "With this grant, we plan to create a system to diagnose the cancer earlier, then treat it immediately in the earliest stages of the disease."

Wong’s team will design a user-friendly 3D visualization and navigation platform that will allow physicians to quickly and accurately guide a needle to the small nodules of potential cancer in patients’ lungs. Once in the nodule, they will use molecular imaging to get a viable tissue sample through a fine-needle aspiration biopsy. Then if cancer is detected, they will use radiofrequency ablation to treat the cancer immediately on the spot.

Currently, typical lung cancer diagnoses are reached after four different imaging studies, both non-invasive and much more invasive, such as percutaneous biopsies and subsequent transthoracic CT-guided needle biopsies. These studies typically take place over the course of days or weeks, and are then followed by treatment.

"This new system will provide a cost-effective way to diagnose and treat small peripheral lung cancer by revolutionizing the traditional ways of diagnosing and treating this disease," Wong said.

Wong designed the prototype system on primary image guidance methods, the software platforms and the combination of image guidance with molecular imaging. This image-guided approach also enables an in-vivo visualization of tumor morphology, metabolic, functional and molecular imaging information at the cellular level. Wong collaborated with Dr. Marshall Hicks, an interventional radiologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center, in evaluating the clinical feasibility of the image-guided system.

For more information about The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, see www.methodistresearch.com. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MethodistHosp and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/methodisthospital.