Thanks to a diagnostic imaging technique that should soon find its way to medical establishments, many patients will be spared the pain and risk of biopsies. The technique, which detects breast and prostate cancer, has recently received FDA clearance. Slated for use as early as next year, it will enable doctors to distinguish between malignant tumors and benign lumps by scanning instead of cutting.
Called 3TP (Three Time Point), the technique makes use of existing MRI machinery and a dye-like material (called a "contrast agent") that is injected near the examination site. The site is scanned by MRI three times over a period of several minutes, once before the contrast agent is injected and twice after. The software developed for the method then creates a colored image of the breast or prostate area. A preponderance of red in the image indicates malignancy, while mainly blue and green are signs of a benign growth.
The procedure was developed by Prof. Hadassa Degani of the Institute's Biological Regulation Department. Because 3TP is non-invasive and is based on existing MRI technology that has long been approved, the FDA clearing process was shorter than usual. Clearance is now being sought in Canada and Europe.
Prof. Degani's research was supported by the M.D. Moross Institute for Cancer Research; Sir David Alliance, CBE, UK; Mr. and Mrs. Lon Morton, Calabasas, CA; Mrs. Jackie Gee, Ms. Livia Meyer and Mr. Harry Woolf, UK; Ms. Lynne Mochon and Ms. Edith Degani, NY, USA; the Washington Square Health Foundation; the Willner Family Center for Vascular Biology; and the Estate of Mrs. Ilse Katz, Switzerland. She is the incumbent of the Fred and Andrea Fallek Professorial Chair in Breast Cancer Research.