Navigating the Brain Map: New Hope for Treating Neurodegeneration
Education & Research New technology is providing another piece of the puzzle when assessing patients with neurodegenerative diseases
Neurodegenerative disease is a term for a range of conditions that primarily affect the neurons in the human brain, with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases being the most common.
Many of these conditions are still in the process of finding a cure, however, the quantitative brain imaging and research technology we have today gives a more accurate assessment in a patient’s development and how to proceed with a proper diagnosis.
“We’ve been working very hard to raise awareness that there is a tool to do CE and FDA approved quantitation of brain anatomy in clinical practice,” says Dr. James Brewer, Neurologist and Associate Professor at UC San Diego and Chief Medical Advisor for CorTechs Labs. “People who have started using it have been extremely happy with the information it provides as it gives a more complete quantitative description of the brain anatomy that can be followed across time.”
Dr. James Leverenz, Director of Cleveland Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health at Cleveland Clinic, expounds upon usage for such brain imaging in his practice: “In addition to the standard MRI, we use volumetric analysis of the hippocampus and ventricles. This piece of information can help us determine if there is a problem as well as if we should consider Alzheimer’s disease.”
"The quantitative brain imaging and research technology we have today gives a more accurate assessment in a patient’s development and how to proceed with a proper diagnosis."
Also from Cleveland Clinic, Dr. J. Stephen Jones, Diagnostic Radiology and the Mellen Center at Cleveland Clinic, adds that once a patient’s brain is scanned, it is then compared to normative database that is adjusted for age, sex and cranial volume. “The key here is not so much what percentile you are in, but rather: is it getting worse? Are you losing volume abnormally over time?” says Jones.
Using the brain mapping technology also helps in identifying curable mimics of neurodegenerative diseases, sparing psychological devastation and negative consequences to the patients and their families.
“Mimics such as sleep apnea, alcoholism, depression and the medications taken to treat those cases often look very much like Alzheimer’s in its early stages,” states Dr. Brewer. “The quantitative imaging allows for the additional objective data to help shape the diagnosis.”
As volumetric analysis continues, doctors are already looking to what’s next. “Nuclear medical testing and Tau imaging are both on the horizon of cutting edge research, although they still need work before entering clinical practice,” Dr. Jones says. “The big game changer will be when an effective treatment comes along for Alzheimer’s disease, making it more imperative to use the testing.”