Advancing Imaging to Improve Cancer Care Across Wisconsin

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Advances in cancer imaging have the power to diagnose and treat patients with non-invasive, personalized treatments. A developing initiative out of the UW Carbone Cancer Center, known as WONIX, is poised to bring improved imaging to any cancer patient in Wisconsin.

WONIX, the Wisconsin Oncology Network of Imaging eXcellence, is working with Wisconsin Oncology Network (WON) sites to offer these innovative treatment options to patients in their home communities throughout the state. It is a $8.6M collaboration between UW, the State of Wisconsin and state-wide WON sites.


Raising the Quality of Treatment Through Advanced Molecular Imaging

Example of molecular imaging

“The mission of WONIX is to provide advanced molecular imaging to the whole State of Wisconsin by building on the Cancer Center's existing collaboration network, WON,” said Robert Jeraj, PhD, a professor of medical physics with the UW Carbone Cancer Center. "WONIX will continue to use the latest technologies in imaging and informatics to more effectively predict how cancer behaves in the body."


In its first two years, WONIX developed the core resources needed to implement the WONIX objectives. Now, any WON site can have access to clinical trials with imaging agents that are usually not commercially available, standardized imaging that can now be compared equally between sites and data sharing and analysis.


WONIX’s potential in raising the quality of treatment for cancer patients extends beyond the state and has gained national attention.

“The National Cancer Institute sees WONIX as a model for academic medical centers providing these resources to community sites,” Jeraj said. “Wisconsin is the only state in the country that has the infrastructure in place to do so.”

WONIX co-director Scott Perlman, MD and administrator Dona Alberti, RN, MSM, are joining Jeraj in visiting WON sites throughout the state and forming WONIX partnerships. Two community sites, Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse and St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, have formally joined WONIX and are expected to enroll patients soon.


Benefits of Using Imaging


The benefits of using imaging include its non-invasive nature and its ability to identify biological differences in a patient’s tumor that a single biopsy might miss. Research initiatives within WONIX are helping to predict more quickly an individual patient’s response to a particular cancer treatment, leading to an increase in productive treatments and a reduction in overtreatment.

“These clinical trials are taking the full power of molecular imaging forward, and WONIX enables partner sites to participate,” Jeraj said.


Open WONIX-Supported Clinical Trials

The four open WONIX-supported clinical trials, including two national trials, are:

  • A national study on metastatic, estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancers that uses the imaging agent FES, an estrogen analog, to predict if a woman should receive anti-estrogen therapy or generalized chemotherapy by measuring ER levels at the primary and metastatic sites

  • A national acute myeloid leukemia study that monitors whole-body tumor uptake of the imaging agent FLT, a measure for tumor growth, and allows for earlier identification of those patients for whom chemotherapy is working or for whom a new approach needs to be taken

  • A retrospective lung cancer study using data from patients who have received standard-of-care FDG imaging and developing a predictive model that correlates the level of FDG labeling of the tumors with clinical outcomes (how the cancer spread, responded to treatment and/or developed treatment resistance)

  • A lung cancer trial that combines standard-of-care FDG imaging with the powerful sequencing of nearly all the potential cancer-driving genetic mutations, correlating mutations with how well a patient will respond to various treatments


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Date Published: 08/02/2016

News tag(s):  cancerclinical trialscancer researchscott b perlmanAdvances

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