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Rapid Imaging Technique Shows Early Promise for Tracking MS: Further Study Needed

March 2, 2020

Researchers have found that a novel imaging technique that speedily quantifies brain tissue damage correlated with microscopic evidence of damage, and with measures of physical and cognitive impairment. Once validated in further studies with larger numbers of people with MS, this technique may help to monitor damage and repair throughout the course and treatment of MS.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scans help healthcare providers track MS disease activity and lesions, and can inform treatment decisions and help measure results in clinical trials. However, typical scans can take an hour or longer, and do not capture specific information about ongoing damage to nerve fibers and the myelin that surrounds them.
  • A new technique has been developed, called REMyDI (Rapid Estimation of Myelin for Diagnostic Imaging), which combines rapid MRI scanning of the whole brain in seven minutes, with a technique that quantifies myelin based on the water compartmentalized in the myelin sheath.
  • This team tested REMyDI in tissue obtained from three people with MS via autopsy, and found that it correlated with damage shown in tissue samples. They also studied it in 71 people with MS and 21 controls without the disease, and found it informative for detecting myelin levels. Lower levels in people with MS linked to measures of cognitive and physical disability.
  • This technique is not yet generally available outside of the research setting.
“Validation of rapid magnetic resonance myelin imaging in multiple sclerosis,” was published February 14, 2020, by Russell Ouellette, Dr. Tobias Granberg, and colleagues from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden in Annals of Neurology.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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