Institute of Fundamental Technological Research
Polish Academy of Sciences

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Dr Hanna Piotrzkowska-Wróblewska won the IX. LIDER Competition organized by the National Centre for Research and Development. During the official award ceremony, which took place on 24th February 2021, Piotrzkowska-Wróblewska’s research and project were acknowledged in terms of their contribution to science and innovation.

Dr Hanna Piotrzkowska-Wróblewska works as assistant professor at the Department of Ultrasound, IPPT PAN. She graduated from doctoral studies at IPPT PAN in 2012 and defended her doctoral dissertation titled “Wyznaczanie parametrów akustycznych skóry ludzkiej in vivo za pomocą ultradźwięków wysokiej częstotliwości” in 2013.

Dr Hanna Piotrzkowska-Wróblewska's lab

Piotrzkowska-Wróblewska gained considerable professional experience conducting interdisciplinary projects and research, i.e. the use of ultrasonic techniques in such fields as dermatological diagnostics (the prototype ultrasound scanner designed at the Department of Ultrasound was handed over to medical doctors who used it to make visualizations of skin tissue and data registration in the form of raw ultrasonic echoes) and in focal thyroid lesions and focal breast lesions.

Conducting effective breast cancer diagnosis is becoming a particularly important medical challenge. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer type in the world and most common cancer type in women. There are 2 million new cases of breast cancer diagnosed every year, which constitutes 25% of all tumors. Although this type of cancer is widespread worldwide, it is most common in the developed countries. In 2019, within the European Union itself, there were 404920 new cases recorded (19 thousand cases in Poland only).

Dr. Piotrzkowska-Wróblewska’s new project aims reflect the needs of both patients with diagnosed breast cancer and of all oncological milieus. Currently, many patients undergoing a two-stage treatment in which the first stage presupposes administering neoadjuvant chemotherapy (preoperative chemotherapy) have to withstand many weeks of administering toxic therapeutics without any control as to their effectiveness. This results in a number of unresponsive to treatment patients who still continue unnecessary chemotherapy for a long time. As a consequence, such patients’ chances for a longer life span and recovery get significantly reduced. The situation results from the currently used methods of monitoring the chemotherapy effectiveness – they base on imaging and sizing tumors. Noticing whether a tumor is shrinking is much delayed in time and usually happens after a couple of weeks of therapy, whereas in the case of positive reaction to treatment, first changes can be observable at the microstructure level of pathological tissue.

The project offers solutions based on ultrasonography, the commonly accepted and available technique, but used in a completely innovative way. The quantitative ultrasound will allow for tissue characterization from the level of its microstructure, thus allowing for a non-invasive and safe way of monitoring changes inside the tumor triggered by neoadjuvant chemotherapy, after every administration of the drug. It will be then possible to distinguish between patients responsive and non-responsive to treatment and to tailor the appropriate therapy, depending on their reaction. The project will result in adjusting treatment to patient in order to maximize the patient’s chance of recovery.

ultrasonography images 1

Responding tumor, parametric image before therapy (a) and at the end of therapy (f)

 

ultrasonography images 2

Non-responding tumor, parametric image before therapy (a) and at the end of therapy (f)

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