Emory University scientists who research better diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors in the laboratory will soon have a new tool at their fingertips, thanks to a special gift from the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children (BTFC). The organization's contribution of $30,000 will help purchase a new, customized imaging device, known as a receiver coil, to identify brain tumors in small rodents.
"This imaging coil will help in non-invasive detection of pediatric and adult brain tumor growths in rodents before any symptoms are visible," says Erwin Van Meir, PhD, professor of neurosurgery and hematology/oncology, Emory University School of Medicine, and director of the Winship Cancer Institute Brain Tumor Program and Laboratory of Molecular Neuro-Oncology at Emory. "We will now be able to follow tumor growth non-invasively in the brain as it develops. The specially designed coil, which will be used in an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner, will be useful to the whole Brain Tumor Program investigators for their experiments."
Previously, the researchers looked at the growth of brain tumors after rodents died. Now, the team will be able to perform MRIs efficiently on small rodent brain tumors, at different stages of growth, with high resolution.
"One of the primary goals of the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children is to help find a cure for brain tumors," says R. Hal Meeks, Jr., president of the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children. "One of our founders is known for saying that 'the BTFC went into business to go out of business.' It may seem to be a big dream, but we hope the science being done at Emory and at other institutions focusing on brain cell research will make our organization obsolete."
The BTFC, established in 1983, is a non-profit organization. Its mission is to provide emotional and informational support to families of children with brain tumors, to provide public education and awareness of the disease, and to raise funds to support research for a cure and for the improvement in the treatment and quality of life of the victims of pediatric brain tumor disease.
"The new equipment will also allow us to monitor the effects of anti-tumor treatments in rodent brain tumor models. These animal models and detection methods are essential to devise new therapies for brain tumors," Dr. Van Meir explains.
The researchers hope the new equipment will help them lead the way in brain tumor research in the near future.
For more information on the Winship Cancer Institute Brain Tumor Program, visit http://www.winshipcancerinstitute.org/research/programs/Brain_Tumor/index.htm. For more information on the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, visit http://www.braintumorkids.org/index.asp.