D. The pathophysiology of multiple sclerosis

In a recent study using a qMRI platform (the EMC algorithm) we demonstrated its potential for detecting subtle changes in tissues’ T2 relaxation values in MS, which are not visible using conventional tools . This improved ability can be chiefly attributed to the higher precision and stability afforded by qMRI signal modeling. This project aims to harness qMRI to track the spatiotemporal-diffusivity of MS pathology in the brain, and investigate the potential for predicting the location of newly forming lesions.

To that end we probe myelin integrity at different stages of MS, and longitudinally through the progression of this disease. At the moment we are focused on collecting data from patients and from healthy individuals and use this data to: (A) correlate subtle abnormalities in normal appearing gray and white matter tissues with the emergence of new lesions and with the corresponding expanded disability status scale (EDSS); (B) examine whole-brain T2 and proton density parameters to identify early manifestations of global atrophy.

 

d

This figure shows how T2 relaxation value can be used as a biomarker for demyelination, even at a very early stage. T2 values were measured in six regions-of-interest (ROIs) of MS patients (N=25) vs. healthy controls (N=38). MS patients’ values were collected only in normal appearing tissue showing no sign lesion. Values were found to be statistically different (p < 0.05) between the two groups in five out of six regions, demonstrating the ability to identify initial pathological process in an otherwise normal appearing tissue (a). Illustration of the brain regions, automatically-segmented using Freesurfer software is shown in (b).