For as long as anyone can remember, doctors have been feeling suspicious hardening under the skin. Scientists from the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the University of Leipzig, in cooperation with clinical-diagnostic radiology and basic biophysical research, have now proven that this ancient examination technique is a pioneering diagnostic method. They discovered that the consistency of a tumor can have a decisive influence on the further course of cancer. They have just published their new findings in the renowned specialist journal "Advanced Science".
First, at the Charité in the Experimental Radiology team headed by Prof. Dr. Ingolf Sack developed a new type of imaging procedure, tomoelastography. This allows the mechanical properties of tumors and surrounding tissue to be mapped in MRI. The values of the changed stiffness and flow properties of cancerous tumors obtained from many patients were then analyzed by biophysicists led by Prof. Dr. Josef Käs at the University of Leipzig under the microscope. Käs and colleagues compared the Charité data with the flow properties of individual cells and explanted tumor samples, provided by Leipzig University Hospital. "The results showed surprisingly consistent patterns of changes in the mechanical material properties of tumors with increasing aggressiveness," says Käs.
Frank Sauer, first author of the study and member of Käs' team, explains that these mechanical patterns are more complicated than simply distinguishing between stiff and soft. In addition to these tactile findings, tomoelastography offers the possibility of grading the change from solid properties to liquid material behavior with pixel precision. "If cells swap places in the tissue, as in flowing water, this leads to increased fluidity of the entire tumor," explains Sauer.
In the past, Käs and his team have shown that these "cell flows" exist in cancerous tumors, even if the tumor as a whole can be felt as a stiff nodule. Sack's team at the Charité can now measure these fundamental connections on patients for the first time and use them for diagnostics. Frank Sauer explains that assessing the fluidity, hardness and texture of a tumor nodule with tomoelastography could allow for more accurate cancer diagnoses and thus help the patient with tailored treatment options. The study is now to be validated in further clinical pilot studies and made usable for radiological diagnostics.
Source: Press release from the University Hospital Leipzig from May 10.08.2023th, XNUMX