SANOFI-SUPPORTED BIOSTAR SPONSORED RESEARCH PROJECT - 2013
Brian Rutt (Anesthesia)
May Han (Medicine)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can affect cognitive functions which can show up as difficulties with memory or attention. These symptoms can impact the everyday activities and hence the quality of life of MS patients. Certain parts of the brain are known to play a critical role in these cognitive tasks, in particular the hippocampus and the thalamus. Nevertheless it is still challenging to detect MS-related changes within the hippocampus or the thalamus; this is because it is very difficult to obtain good, high contrast images with standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques in these particular areas. In this research, we propose to use ultra-high-magnetic field MRI (7 Tesla, where Tesla is the unit to measure the strength of a magnet), that is 2-4 times more powerful than MRIs that are found in most hospitals and clinics (1.5 Tesla to 3 Tesla). 7 Tesla MRI has the potential to provide better images compared to the standard MRIs after proper development. In this project, we aim to develop new imaging strategies at ultra high field to be able to observe MS-related damage of particular structures (hippocampus, thalamus) that could explain a large part of the cognitive symptoms reported by the patient. Ultimately, if successful, this project could lead to the validation of these new imaging methods to look at these critical brain structures and to monitor their alteration or integrity during the course of the disease or under disease-modifying therapies.