MRI Nanotechnology to Target Marker Found in Aggressive Brain Tumors

By News Release


The University of South Australia (UniSA) and cancer diagnostic company Ferronova are collaborating to develop a novel technology designed to precisely image aggressive brain cancers and guide treatment.

The new MRI nanotechnology targets a specific marker that is found in more than 90 per cent of solid tumors, including high-grade brain cancers. Already yielding promising preclinical results in a prostate cancer model, the new MRI technology has potential to have a significant impact on aggressive brain cancers. The new funding will progress the technology towards a first in-human trial.

UniSA’s Dr Nicole Dmochowska, who will lead the research supported by a REDI Fellowship, says there is a critical need for better imaging of high-grade brain tumors.

“The prognosis for high-grade brain tumors such as glioblastoma remains abysmal, so it’s vital that we progress new technologies that can potentially enable more precise targeting of tumors,” Dr Dmochowska says. “This research will advance a cutting-edge imaging technology developed in collaboration with Ferronova and with the support of the NeuroSurgical Research Foundation designed to more accurately image and therefore treat brain tumors with no additional neurotoxicity.

Dr Hien Le, a radiation oncologist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and one of the Chief Investigators in the seed funding for this work, says the research has potential to advance cancer treatments.

“As someone who specializes in the management of brain cancer, I understand the importance of accurate tumor delineation,” Le says. “Better imaging means we can more confidently define the tumor target, facilitating precise treatment delivery, whilst minimizing damage to normal healthy tissues.”

In Australia, there were 1896 new diagnoses of brain cancer (1191 males and 725 females) in 2021. Glioblastoma is the most common brain malignancy with a five-year survival rate of only 5%.

Dr Melanie Nelson, R&D Manager at Ferronova, says the research will streamline preclinical validations for the technology for brain tumors, in preparation for a phase 1 ‘first in human’ clinical trial.

“Ferronova is determined to transform the precision of cancer imaging, surgery and therapy to ensure that everyone diagnosed with cancer is given the best possible care,” Dr Nelson says. “The new technology builds on Ferronova’s cancer staging technology FerroTrace, currently undergoing clinical trials in several cancer types.

“By bringing together the best minds in chemistry, bioengineering and oncology we’re continuing to push the boundaries to help make sure no one dies unnecessarily because a cancer was missed.”