Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas have developed a novel technology for diagnosing multiple sclerosis (MS). Their work can be used to determine which damaged regions of a patient’s brain have the potential to heal themselves, and which do not. This is an exciting development for Americans at risk and already suffering from MS.
Currently, physicians use 2D slices of MRI images to identify lesions and develop MS diagnoses. Yet, this type of analysis does not indicate how a given lesion will behave over time, an important aspect for disease management. To address this challenge, the researchers used a computational tool to infer whether lesions are metabolically active or inactive based on 3D imaging data.
When the UT Dallas team studied lesion phenotypes, they focused on various biomarkers, including cerebral blood flow, blood oxygen level dependent signal (BOLD, and cerebral metabolic rate (CMRO2). They analyzed these biomarkers within lesions and in the surrounding tissues and identified a non-invasive marker, the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal, that may provide insights about the condition of a given brain lesion. BOLD compares the oxygen at the injury site to its surroundings, so by studying the slope of this signal, the researchers were able to determine whether or not a lesion was metabolically active, and thus, could potentially heal on its own.
They examined MRI images from 23 patients and 109 different lesions, and using their 3D approach they were able to notice that metabolically active lesions were more spherical with a rough surface, whereas metabolically inactive lesions are irregular in shape and have a smooth surface. One day, these metrics could be used to quickly and more effectively diagnose and manage multiple sclerosis.
“This diagnostic method represents a significant advance in our field, considering the new MS drugs being developed to heal damaged areas of the brain,” said Dinesh Sivakolundu, the study’s lead author. “Using our new technology, we could potentially determine which patients would benefit from such new drugs and which patients would not.”
Image: Brain lesion resulting from multiple sclerosis (red) along with concentric rings surrounding the lesion exact to the external shape of the lesion. Courtesy of researchers.
The publication in Journal of Neuroimaging: Three‐Dimensional Lesion Phenotyping and Physiologic Characterization Inform Remyelination Ability in Multiple Sclerosis
Via: UT Dallas