Monitoring tumour progression during a course of radiation therapy can help determine whether a treatment is working or not. Such tracking is mostly anatomy-based, using weekly CT scans, for example, to measure tumour size. This approach, however, can fail to detect subtle changes at the cellular level – a task that calls for functional imaging.
Functional imaging modalities can characterize responses of the tumour microenvironment. But common techniques, such as PET or diffusion-weighted MRI, require a separate scheduled exam. Researchers from Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering have now proposed a way to image the tumour microenvironment during radiotherapy without interrupting the clinical workflow, using Cherenkov-excited luminescence imaging (CELI). They achieve this by employing CELI to track the spread of a phosphorescent tattoo ink (Phys. Med. Biol. 10.1088/1361-6560/ab7d16)