Hyperpolarized 13C metabolic imaging: a new way to look at cancer


With a growing interest into cancer metabolic reprogramming, new research strategies target local metabolic activity in order to improve our ability to characterize the disease. The relatively recent development of dissolution dynamic nuclear polarization can create metabolically active compounds with magnetic resonance (MR) sensitivity enhancements on the order of more than 10,000-fold. The ability to differentiate the metabolic products from the injected substrate using MR imaging or spectroscopy permits the real-time observation of in vivo metabolic pathways critical to the identification and evaluation of cancer. The basic principles of this new methodology are discussed with preclinical and clinical examples of how it can aid in the detection and staging of cancer as well as in monitoring the response to treatment.