AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 2, 2020


An Innovative PET Tracer Can Measure Damage From Multiple Sclerosis in Mouse Models

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Novel approach may improve diagnosis and monitoring for MS patients

The loss or damage of myelin, a cellular sheath that surrounds and insulates nerves, is the hallmark of the immune-mediated neurological disorder multiple sclerosis (MS). When segments of this protective membrane are damaged, nerve impulses can be disrupted. Symptoms range from tingling and numbness to weakness, pain and paralysis.

There is currently no reliable way to directly image demyelination. Physicians rely on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but despite high resolution images, MRI is not quantitative and cannot distinguish between demyelination and inflammation, which often coexist in people with MS. 

A multi-institutional team based primarily at the University of Chicago Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, describe early tests of a novel minimally-invasive way to assess myelin damage using positron emission tomography (PET).

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