Your Donations in Action: Thanh Binh Nguyen, MD, FRCPC

Special MR Technique Helps Identify Certain Gliomas, Facilitates Better Surgical Planning

Thahn Nguyen
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Gliomas are among the most common primary brain tumors in adults and are often incurable.

Recently, researchers have identified 2-hydroxyglutarate as a biochemical by-product of faulty metabolism in certain gliomas that have a mutation of the isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) enzyme.

IDH status is a key indicator of aggressiveness in newly diagnosed gliomas. However, determination of IDH mutation must be performed through the acquisition of a tissue sample gathered when the tumor is surgically resected.  

In his 2016-2017 RSNA Bayer HealthCare/RSNA Research Seed Grant project, Thanh Binh Nguyen, MD, FRCPC, associate professor of radiology at The Ottawa Hospital in Ottawa, Canada, and his colleagues explored the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) as a non-invasive means to detect the presence of 2-hydroxyglutarate in gliomas with the IDH enzyme mutation.

Watch Dr. Nguyen discuss his research. 

Dr. Nguyen and his team conducted a prospective pilot study using MRS to differentiate IDH mutant gliomas from wild-type gliomas based on tumor morphology, physiology and metabolism. They performed in vivo MRS on a series of 75 consecutive patients presenting with a new glioma.

They found that a special MRS technique called edited MRS could help identify IDH-mutant gliomas with high specificity in routine clinical practice. Edited MRS provides a means of measuring low concentration metabolite signals that cannot be reliably measured by conventional MRS techniques due to signal overlap.

According to Dr. Nguyen, preoperative knowledge of the IDH mutant status using edited MRS could help to better determine the prognosis of patients with gliomas, since patients with IDH-mutant gliomas have better prognosis than those without the mutation. It might also help to plan the surgical resection, he said.

“The R&E Foundation grant enabled me to put together a multidisciplinary research team of neurosurgeons, neuropathologists, oncologists and physicists and to establish myself as a researcher in the field of metabolic cancer imaging,” Dr. Nguyen said. “It has allowed me to obtain a larger grant from the Cancer Research Society this year in order to pursue my research on metabolomics of gliomas in more depth.”

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