Researchers have created a chemical which contains fluorine. It could, in theory, be given to the patient by injection before a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. The fluorine responds differently according to the varying acidity in the body, so that tumours could be highlighted and appear in contrast or ‘light up’ on the resulting scan.

Professor David Parker of Durham University’s Department of Chemistry explained: “There is very little fluorine present naturally in the body so the signal from our compound stands out. When it is introduced in this form it acts differently depending on the acidity levels in a certain area, offering the potential to locate and highlight cancerous tissue.”

Professor Parker’s team is the first to design a version of a compound containing fluorine which enables measurements to be taken quickly enough and to be read at the right ‘frequency’ to have the potential to be used with existing MRI scanners, whilst being used at sufficiently low doses to be harmless to the patient.

Professor Parker continued: “We have taken an important first step towards the development of a selective new imaging method. However, we appreciate that there is a lot of work to do to take this laboratory work and put it into practice. In principle, this approach could be of considerable benefit in the diagnosis of diseases such as breast, liver or prostate cancer.” Professor Parker and his team believe that molecules containing fluorine could be used in mainstream MRI diagnoses within the next decade.

MEDICA.de; Source: Durham University