SCI has devastating consequences for patients with severe impairments of motor and/or sensory functions, and has a significant impact on quality of life, life expectancy and economic burden. There are no fully restorative therapies for SCI as yet, but preclinical studies have found that SCI creates tissue cavities, disrupts the proper functioning of descending and ascending white matter tracts and grey matter functions, and then causes secondary destructive and reparative processes. While the recovery from SCI mainly depends on the amount of spared spinal cord tissue at the level of injury, protection of viable spinal tissue from secondary injury, promoting endogenous repairs (such as local nerve fiber sprouting and regeneration) around the injured spinal cord, and harvesting the beneficiary potential of functional plasticity of the remaining neural circuits, are each potentially effective therapies to improve recovery. Several clinical trials that targeted different pathological processes for promoting recovery and restoring lost functions resulted in mixed findings, with uncertain therapeutic effects [3, 7, 11-13]. One critical limiting factor in these clinical trials has been the lack of objective, sensitive and pathology-specific biomarkers for monitoring therapeutic action and evaluating the effects of treatment. Existing biomarkers lack specificity for the particular underlying pathology being targeted. In the presentation, I will discuss our approach of using non-invasive multi-parametric MRI to assess changes in structural, functional and cellular/molecular properties of the traumatically injured spinal cord over time in a monkey SCI model. I will show our most recent evidence supporting the use of noninvasive and objective MRI biomarkers for diagnosing injury severity, monitoring progression, predicting recovery, and indicating treatment responses. Developments of mechanism-based objective biomarkers is essential for determining the optimal time window, targets and effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.
These discoveries will have a profound impact for both Neuroscience and neurology research communities.
Audience Take Away:
• Explain how the audience will be able to use what they learn?
Novel quantitative neuroimaging methods that can assist their basic neuroscience or clinical research.
• How will this help the audience in their job? Is this research that other faculty could use to expand their research or teaching? Does this provide a practical solution to a problem that could simplify or make a designer’s job more efficient? Will it improve the accuracy of a design, or provide new information to assist in a design problem? List all other benefits.
Audience will appreciate the power of quantitative MRI methods and their applcaiton in a board range of research of the spinal cord.