New imaging know-how captures detailed data on metabolism

The standard MRI (left) shows where the brain tumor is located and how big it is, while the DMI (right) shows how the tumor tissue processes glucose differently.

Yale researchers have developed a new imaging technique that captures detailed information about metabolism, which plays a role in many diseases. The novel yet simple technique leveraging existing technology could potentially be used to evaluate the effectiveness of drug therapies for cancer and other diseases, the researchers said.

A technique known as Deuterium Metabolic Imaging (DMI) uses MRI scanning technology to create three-dimensional images of how fuels like glucose are metabolized in the brain and other organs. To test the technique, the researchers used DMI on rats and humans who had consumed deuterium-labeled glucose – a non-radioactive or stable isotope of hydrogen. Brain scans showed clear differences in glucose metabolism in normal tissue compared to tumor tissue. The researchers also observed changes in glucose metabolism in animals that received cancer therapy.

The finding shows that DMI can reveal a metabolic response to drug therapy even before the drug has an impact on tumor size, creating a new tool for drug evaluation, the researchers said. The same robust technique can theoretically be applied to any disease that affects metabolism, such as multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases, and is not limited to the brain, but can map other organs as well, they found. With their findings, they hope to bring DMI from the research environment to the clinic.

Publication: Henk M. De Feyter et al., “Deuterium Metabolic Imaging (DMI) for MRT-based 3D mapping of metabolism in vivo”, Science Advances, August 22, 2018: Vol. 4, no. 8, eaat7314; DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.aat7314

Related Articles