Rutgers Part of Team Awarded $3.3 Million NIH Grant for Prostate Cancer Research

Rutgers Part of Team Awarded $3.3 Million NIH Grant for Prostate Cancer Research

Industrial-academic partnership to help urologists zero in on cancerous tissue during ultrasound-guided biopsies, localized treatments

N.J. – The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $3.3 million grant to a
research team that includes Rutgers University to increase the reliability of imaging
prostate cancer.

team, led by Riverside Research Institute and involving clinicians from Boston’s Beth
Israel Deaconess
Medical Center
and engineers at GE Global Research, will research ways to help urologists zero
in on suspicious tissue in the prostate gland while they perform needle
biopsies or localized treatments for prostate cancer.

The National
Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded the grant under its industrial-academic partnership
program to fund work that can quickly move from the research lab to patient

NIH logo 2

The researchers are developing
technology to pinpoint the locations of suspected cancerous tissue using both magnetic
resonance images acquired just before the biopsy or treatment and ultrasound
images acquired at the time of the procedure.

Currently, urologists
typically use conventional ultrasound images to guide them to various regions of
the prostate gland, from which they extract samples of tissue. While conventional
ultrasound can image the gland well, it cannot reveal the presence or location
of suspicious tissue inside the gland. If the biopsy samples don’t yield cancerous
tissue, there’s still a chance that cancer is present.

“As a result, urologists
aren’t always confident about ruling out cancer after a negative biopsy guided
by conventional ultrasound,” said Anant Madabhushi,
associate professor of
biomedical engineering at Rutgers and co-investigator on the NIH grant.

The research team
aims to combine advanced ultrasound and magnetic resonance (MR) technologies
developed by the consortium’s researchers to provide a more reliable method of
imaging prostate cancer than is possible using either advanced method alone.

“The information
we glean from combining the two methods could help urologists direct the
placement of the biopsy needle or localized treatments to otherwise invisible
cancerous tissue,” said Madabhushi,
who is also a member of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ).

a million biopsies are performed in the United States every year,
Madabhushi noted, out of which 20% are positive. Men whose biopsies are
negative are sometimes asked to repeat the procedure later.

we can do these biopsies in a more targeted fashion, we will be more confident
that there’s no cancer if the biopsy is negative,” he said. “From a patient’s
perspective, that would be far more comforting news.”

The grant’s
principal investigator, Ernest Feleppa, research director of the Lizzi Center
for Biomedical Engineering at New York City’s Riverside Research Institute, is
a pioneer in developing advanced ultrasound technology for imaging prostate
cancer. His methods, which analyze ultrasound echo signals in unique ways, show
promise for improved guidance of biopsies and targeting of therapies.

advanced MR technology performed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and
elsewhere has been able to identify abnormal tissue masses and pinpoint their
location within the prostate gland. The reliability of these advanced MR
methods is similar to that of Feleppa’s advanced ultrasound methods.

signal properties depend on microscopic architecture of tissue while MR signals
depend on tissue constituents and other dynamic properties of tissue. The researchers
will use computerized tools to align and scale data from both imaging methods,
a challenge because of the different resolutions of the two methods and the
fact that the MRI is still and the real-time ultrasound image is changing.

with Feleppa and Madabhushi is Mary Ellen Sun, lead clinical investigator from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical
Center, affiliated with the Harvard Medical School.
The Beth Israel clinical partners have developed several protocols for prostate
magnetic resonance imaging. Also collaborating is Kai Thomenius, lead
scientific investigator at GE Global Research, which is providing
instrumentation for three-dimensional ultrasonic data acquisition.

latest NIH grant complements another industrial-academic partnership grant that
Rutgers received in 2009, working with UPenn
Medicine and Siemens to identify MRI features that indicate cancerous tissue
and develop software that will help radiologists make accurate and timely

Media Contact: Carl Blesch
732-932-7084 x616