ACRIN sets sights on noncancer imaging research

April 22, 2009
H.A. Abella

The American College of Radiology Imaging Network will expand its research scope beyond cancer to add applications that advance clinical care in areas such as neuro and cardiovascular imaging.

The American College of Radiology Imaging Network will expand its research scope beyond cancer to add applications that advance clinical care in areas such as neuro and cardiovascular imaging.

ACRIN started its first noncancer imaging research in 2006 by creating the Cardiovascular Committee with funding provided by the ACR and corporate donors. In the same year, it also launched a multicenter trial on MR imaging of articular cartilage damage of the knee in osteoarthritis. Since then, Cardiovascular Committee members have been considering specific imaging applications that have potential for immediate clinical use but have not yet been validated, such as coronary CT angiography, said ACRIN executive director Dr. Mitchell Schnall.

The first two trials will focus on the role of coronary CTA in patients presenting to the emergency room with acute chest pain, according to Schnall, who received fresh funding of nearly $26 million for further imaging research just a few months after taking over as ACRIN's boss in March 2008.

The studies should provide solid multicenter data that may not only establish coronary CTA in the acute chest pain setting but will also help plan trials for more challenging indications such as chronic chest pain, Schnall said.

In addition to cardiovascular imaging research, ACRIN will consider neuroscience research beyond cancers of the head and neck.

"I would expect that, much in the way we saw a strategy for cardiovascular imaging research emerge in the past year, this year we will start to see a strategy about the role of imaging in neurovascular disease," Schnall said.

One of ACRIN's latest accomplishments involved the National Oncologic PET Registry. In 2005, along with the Academy for Molecular Imaging, ACRIN launched the NOPR with the goal of expanding reimbursement for PET imaging of cancer. Their efforts were rewarded recently by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with a national coverage determination that grants reimbursement for most solid cancers and myeloma.