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New technique that helps in the early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease: study | Health

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Professor Aviv Mezer’s team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) have recognized that by modifying a related procedure known as quantitative MRI (qMRI), cellular alterations in Parkinson’s disease can be uncovered.



Their method allowed them to examine microstructures in the part of the deep brain known as the striatum – an organ known to deteriorate during the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Using a new analysis method, developed by Mezer’s doctoral student, Elior Drori, biological changes in the vena cava tissue of the striatum were clearly revealed.

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Additionally, they were able to demonstrate that these changes were associated with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease and movement dysfunction in patients. Their findings have been published in the prestigious journal Science Advances.

qMRI achieves its sensitivity by taking multiple MRI images using different excitation energies – much like taking the same photograph in different lighting colors. The HU researchers were able to use their qMRI analysis to reveal changes in tissue structure in distinct regions of the striatum.



The structural sensitivity of these measurements could previously only have been achieved in laboratories examining the brain cells of post-mortem patients. Not an ideal situation for detecting a disease early or monitoring the effectiveness of a drug!

“When you don’t have measurements, you don’t know what’s normal and what’s abnormal brain structure, and what changes as the disease progresses,” Mezer explained. The new information will facilitate early diagnosis of the disease and provide “markers” to monitor the effectiveness of future drug therapies.

“What we discovered,” he continued, “is just the tip of the iceberg.” It’s a technique they will now expand to study microstructural changes in other regions of the brain. Additionally, the team is currently developing qMRI into a tool that can be used in the clinical setting. Mezer predicts it’s about 3-5 years later.



Drori further suggests that this type of analysis will allow the identification of subgroups within the population with Parkinson’s disease – some of whom may respond differently to certain medications than others. Ultimately, he sees this analysis “leading to personalized treatment, enabling future drug discovery with each person receiving the most appropriate drug.”

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