Dr Ferdia Gallagher is testing a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique – called hyperpolarized carbon-13 MRI – to measure changes in the brains of people with MS.
MRI is a common technique used to measure MS activity in the brain, but it can’t pick up on changes in metabolism. There’s evidence to suggest that sugar-like molecules are broken down (or metabolised) differently by areas of the brain inside and outside of an MS lesion. Changes in metabolism tend to happen much earlier on in MS than the structural changes that can be seen using standard MRI so could be useful as a marker of MS activity.
This project will be testing hyperpolarized carbon-13 MRI, to see if metabolism is different in MS lesions compared to other parts of the brain.
The team will inject a sugar-like molecule called pyruvate into people with MS. They’ll then be able to see where the pyruvate sits in the brain and how it’s metabolised into other molecules. One of the break-down products is called lactic acid, and the team believe that this lactic acid will highlight areas of the brain with MS activity.
This technique could provide a very sensitive way to detect cellular changes in MS, and could identify them before they’re detectable with conventional imaging techniques.
Source + More information: Multiple Sclerosis Society