As part of a Rosetrees Trust-funded PhD studentship project at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), Dr. Simon Robinson, Dr. Yann Jamin, and Konstantinos Zormpas-Petridis, are working to bridge the gap between two clinically useful disciplines to demonstrate that MRI can complement diagnostic molecular pathology, and develop MRI as a non-invasive tool to characterise tumour heterogeneity and evolution in situ.

The focus of this project is childhood neuroblastoma, a pathology-rich disease with a very wide range of clinical outcomes. In their latest research, using their image analysis framework, the team have demonstrated that the clinically available MRI technique called T1-mapping is sensitive to the underlying neuroblastoma pathology. Published in Cancer Research, this non-invasive scanning technique can detect and map the presence of active (including resistant) disease, and can subsequently inform on the response to treatment in a specific model of neuroblastoma, including promising MYCN-targeted treatment.

The team will move to initiating the translation of their MRI scans into the neuroblastoma clinic. Through a clinical and biological study within standard-of-care- induction chemotherapy, the aim now will be to use their approach to help identify active disease in children with neuroblastoma and help enhance response assessment, surgical planning, and biopsies guidance, for improved genomic characterisation.

Written by: Dr. Rebecca Downing