Friday, August 16, 2013

Research: Using MRI to Measure Iron in the Brain

Submitted by: Issel Anne Lim, PhD
Department: Radiology / FM Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging

At the F.M. Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging, we create novel MRI technologies at 3Tesla and 7Tesla to characterize the central nervous system. I've been developing a technique to measure "magnetic susceptibility," which is the intrinsic property of an object to affect an applied magnetic field. We can measure these changes in the magnetic field, back-calculate to determine the magnetic susceptibility, and correlate the average susceptibility per structure with brain iron concentration. (Below is a movie of a Quantitative Susceptibility Map traveling from the bottom to the top of the brain.) Brain iron changes with age, and has been shown to increase in several neurodegenerative diseases. We're specifically focusing on patients with schizophrenia and Huntington's Disease. We ultimately hope to use magnetic susceptibility as a biomarker to track or treat these different diseases.

For more information, check out our announcement on our website for the National Research Resource for Quantitative Functional MRI.

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