MRIs have been a longstanding alternative to using painful and invasive biopsies to diagnose breast cancer. To create an MRI, dye is injected near tumors and the dyed tumor cells create an image; bright images indicate malignant tumors. But MRIs accurately distinguish malignant from benign breast cancer tumors only 30% of the time. Charles Springer
, a senior scientist at the Advanced Imaging Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University, five years ago began developing MRI software that looked past the image’s brightness to analyze how fast dye traveled out of the tumor cells. He found that dye leaves malignant cells up to 40% faster than from benign cells. “It’s very exciting,” Springer says. “Nobody could have predicted it.” The software has diagnosed breast cancer in 135 test patients with 100% accuracy and Springer says it has many other applications, including diagnosing prostate, bone and brain cancer. OHSU has applied for a patent and DeltaPoint
, a spin-off medical technology firm from the university, is currently raising money to pursue FDA approval and commercialization.