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Neurology Live: The Future of Multiple Sclerosis Imaging

Neurology Live, an online and print journal delivering quality and relevant information to healthcare professionals treating neurological diseases, recently featured an article by Pascal Sati, PhD, as its cover story. His commentary discusses the latest advances and the future of multiple sclerosis (MS) imaging.

Sati recently joined Cedars-Sinai as director of the Neuroimaging Program in the departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery. Coming to Los Angeles from a decade-long career at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, he will use his extensive experience to build a neuroimaging program that will bring the department cutting-edge imaging techniques to study neurological disorders like MS.

As Sati described the future of imaging for patients with MS, he focused his attention on ultra-fast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the recent outburst of artificial intelligence (AI). “These advances are the crest of a new wave of scientific tools for the MS clinic,” Sati wrote in the Neurology Live article.

More specifically, this scientific wave includes advances in image acquisition and analysis, innovative imaging biomarkers and specialized MRI devices. As Sati explains, one of these new MRI sequences is compressed sensing which utilizes highly under-sampled data reducing the scan time of any 2D or 3D conventional scans by 20% to 50%. This approach will soon be combined with AI-based image reconstruction techniques to improve its image quality and provide extremely short MRI exams so patients will experience less discomfort.

When it comes to imaging biomarkers in MS, Sati says conventional imaging contrasts lack specificity regarding the underlying pathological mechanisms involved in the development of MS lesions. This poor specificity frequently complicates the evaluation of patients suffering from radiological mimics of MS, putting these patients at risk of receiving a misdiagnosis when there is an overreliance on MRI findings, Sati explained.

“Therefore, a crucial need exists for MRI techniques to deliver biomarkers specific to MS pathology,” said Sati. “Currently, two extremely promising imaging biomarkers are in the research pipeline to help address this issue of specificity.”

One of these biomarkers – known as the central vein sign (CVS) – is currently being investigated in a multicenter study recently funded by a $7.2 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Nancy Sicotte, MD, the Women's Guild Distinguished Chair in Neurology at Cedars-Sinai, serves as co-principal investigator on the study, which will utilize advanced brain MRI techniques invented by Sati. Together the researchers hope to demonstrate an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of MS by comparing the current diagnostic criteria against the prediction based on CVS detection.

The Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center at Cedars-Sinai unites physician expertise with world-class research to help patients manage their symptoms and keep participating in activities they enjoy. The center features a team of specialists—including neurologists, ophthalmologists, rheumatologists and physical therapists. We have extensive experience in evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and related disorders.

Cedars-Sinai has been designated as a Partner in MS Care – Center for Comprehensive Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“Our nationally recognized program delivers the best available treatments, along with the personalized attention patients deserve,” said Sicotte. “Our most recent NIH grant, coupled with other leading-edge research advances, will continue to advance the clinical care of those living with the condition.”

Click here to read the complete article from Neurology Live.