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© UCL
UCL scientists have developed a new technique for detecting the uptake of sugar in tumors, using magnetic resonance imaging.
A new technique for detecting cancer by imaging the consumption of sugar with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been unveiled by UCL scientists. The breakthrough could provide a safer and simpler alternative to standard radioactive techniques and enable radiologists to image tumours in greater detail.

The new technique, called 'glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer' (glucoCEST), is based on the fact that tumours consume much more glucose (a type of sugar) than normal, healthy tissues in order to sustain their growth.


Comment: But notice how this important information isn't being utilized by many doctors to prevent or treat cancer. While, the fact is, that ketogenic - no sugar/ low carbohydrates/ high fat - diet is known to help with many diseases. Read the following articles to learn more:

Ketogenic diet, calorie restriction and hyperbaric treatment offer hope for non-toxic cancer treatment and alleviation of multiple health issues
Ketogenic diet: Role in epilepsy and beyond
Is the Ketogenic Diet the cure for multiple diseases?
Ketogenic diet may be key to cancer recovery


The researchers found that sensitising an MRI scanner to glucose uptake caused tumours to appear as bright images on MRI scans of mice.

Lead researcher Dr Simon Walker-Samuel, from the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) said: "GlucoCEST uses radio waves to magnetically label glucose in the body. This can then be detected in tumours using conventional MRI techniques. The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumours, which require the injection of radioactive material." Professor Mark Lythgoe, Director of CABI and a senior author on the study, said: "We can detect cancer using the same sugar content found in half a standard sized chocolate bar. Our research reveals a useful and cost-effective method for imaging cancers using MRI - a standard imaging technology available in many large hospitals."

He continued: "In the future, patients could potentially be scanned in local hospitals, rather than being referred to specialist medical centres." The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine and trials are now underway to detect glucose in human cancers.

According to UCL's Professor Xavier Golay, another senior author on the study: "Our cross-disciplinary research could allow vulnerable patient groups such as pregnant women and young children to be scanned more regularly, without the risks associated with a dose of radiation." Dr Walker-Samuel added: "We have developed a new state-of-the-art imaging technique to visualise and map the location of tumours that will hopefully enable us to assess the efficacy of novel cancer therapies."

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Glucose uptake varies within tumors, as demonstrated using a new technique developed by scientists at UCL. 'Hot' regions at the edge of the tumor show increased uptake compared with 'cold' central regions, which could be used in the future to determine the best therapies to give to individual patients.
The work was supported by public and charitable funding from the National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, Cancer Research UK, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Notes for editors:

1. Members of the media who would like more information, or to interview the researchers quoted, please contact David Weston UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 3108 3844, out of hours: +44 (0)7917 271 364, email: d.weston@ucl.ac.uk

2. High resolution images are available from UCL Media Relations. Please credit UCL if used.

3. The paper "Imaging glucose uptake and metabolism in tumors" is published online ahead of print in Nature Medicine, July 7th 2013.

4. The UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging is a new multidisciplinary research centre for experimental imaging. The Centre is built around a number of groups at UCL and brings together imaging technologies across UCL with specific applications in the biomedical sciences. Dr Simon Walker-Samuel and Professor Mark Lythgoe are affiliated to UCL Division of Medicine. Professor Xavier Golay is affiliated to the UCL Institute of Neurology.

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