Prof. Bernard Gallez, recognized internationally for his expertise in tissue oxygenation measurements, has recently been granted, along with his team from the Catholic University of Louvain, the Foundation Fournier-Majoie (FFM) award for their development of a unique, non-invasive way to measure tumor oxygenation.
The investigators from the Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Research Group of UCL (Prof. B. Gallez and his colleagues Dr B. Jordan and Dr J. Magat) received the award for their development of an innovative technique that monitors variation in tumor oxygenation known as MOBILE (Mapping of Oxygen By Imaging Lipids relaxation Enhancement). Their studies have shown that this technology is much more sensitive to changes in oxygenation and has the potential to provide immediate, active and recurrent measurements of tumor oxygenation. Currently, atraumatic, ready-to-use methods as well as other tools to measure tissue oxygenation are still lacking in day-to-day clinical practice. Dr. Gallez recognized that since hypoxia* of the tumor tissue favors metastasis and regeneration of vessels; and reduces the tumor’s treatment sensitivity, in particular to radiotherapy; the ability to predict the presence of hypoxic regions in tumors individually was essential to bridging the gap between the appearance of the hypoxic tumor and radiation therapy practice. For this reason, developing a non-invasive risk-free recurrent technique for mapping tumor hypoxia was a favorable and much needed solution. The ability to more accurately identify individual tumor characteristics and succeed in easing tumor hypoxia can allow therapy treatments to be specifically adapted to every patient. In addition, this technology has the potential to be immediately carried out in cancer patients as a tool to personalize anti-cancer treatments such as in radiation therapy and treatments targeting the tumor vasculature.
About the Award and what it means for UCL
Established by Dr. Bernard Majoie, the Foundation Fournier-Majoie focuses on supporting research and its accessibility within the medical field of new diagnostic and prognostic tools for cancer or anti-cancer treatments that, at the same time, meet the indispensable criteria of reliability and simplicity. The foundation for that matter supports committed scientists and researchers, from the onset of their project through its advanced stages into medical practice. In granting this award to Prof. Gallez, the FFM hopes for he and his team, and certainly for those patients who will benefit from the treatment, an accelerated advancement in the development and standardization of a cancer therapy that will be available to all MRI systems and precisely adaptable to each individual patient.
This FFM prize awarded to Dr. Gallez and his team has provided the validation they were waiting for, bringing them one step closer to bridging the gap between occurrence of tumor hypoxia and daily radiation therapy practices as well as bridging the gap between the innovative technology and its accessibilty for use in cancer patients. The support from the foundation will give the team the stimulation needed to push an innovative technology already established at the laboratory phase, into their ultimate objective: concrete use in the treatment of cancers.
Within 2-3 years to acquire the valorization needed that would allow for commercially available software to be installed on any clinical MRI system. To reach this goal, the project will combine and integrate the efforts of several experts from UCL active in medical physics and imaging; biology and pharmacology; radiology and radiation oncology. While pre-clinical studies will confirm the technology and extend the areas of applications; clinical studies will justify the implementation of the procedure in the cancer patient. Together with the assistance of the Louvain Technology Transfer Office and the awarded support of Fournier-Majoie Foundation, the final goal for this team is to develop an established technology that will be available as a standard MR sequence on all MRI systems ultimately advancing the effectiveness of cancer treatments among patients.
Congratulations to Prof. Gallez and his team and best of luck in achieving this goal!
* low rate of oxygenation of the tumor tissue
• Dr Gallez, is a full Professor; and Founder and Director of the Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Research Group; at the Catholic University of Louvain (Woluwe, Belgium). His main research activities encompass the development of innovative magnetic resonance tools to characterize the tumor microenvironment, the exploration of new pharmacological interventions to increase the efficacy of anti-cancer treatments, and the development of biomarkers that can predict the efficacy of anti-cancer treatments.
• Dr. Gallez and his team were awarded 190000 € by the Foundation Fournier Majoie in September 2012.
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