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Myelin-Specific Tracer May Help MS Treatment

October 3, 2013
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Neuroradiology, Nuclear Medicine
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A new radiotracer for the first time allows imaging of myelin damage to the spinal cord at the molecular level, offering the possibility of not only better diagnosis but also better treatment of multiple sclerosis.

The tracer, known as MeDAS, binds only to myelin in the spinal cord and brain. It allows a PET scanner to detect the damage to the nerves’ myelin sheath that is the hallmark of MS. Yanming Wang, PhD, told the Plain Dealer newspaper of Cleveland:

This is a highly desired technique in the medical community.

Dr. Wang is senior author of an article about MeDAS that was published online last week in Annals of Neurology. He is associate professor of radiology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a faculty member at the Case Center for Imaging Research.

Why so highly desired? Because you can’t treat MS until you can definitively diagnosis it. And to test possible treatments, you have to be able to measure their effectiveness in slowing or even repairing myelin damage.

“This discovery has opened the door to developing new drugs that can truly restore nerve function, not just modify the symptoms,” said Robert H. Miller, PhD, a study co-author. “A cure for MS requires both repairing myelin and a tool to measure the mechanism.”

Dr. Miller is vice president for research at Case Western Reserve and the Allen C. Holmes Professor of Neurological Diseases at the medical school. He was quoted in a university news release.

The study’s lead author, Chunying Wu, PhD, said the imaging technique could have other applications. “It can also be used as a platform technology to unlock the mysteries of other myelin-related diseases, such as spinal cord injury,” he said. Dr. Wu is a Case Western Reserve radiology instructor.

The Case Western Reserve research team has completed preclinical studies in animals and is planning human trials.

Related CME seminar (up to 21 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): UCSF Neuro and Musculoskeletal Imaging

 

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