MRI of Deep Grey Matter in multiple sclerosis

Principal Investigator: Dr. Alan Wilman

Affiliation: University of Alberta

Term: April 1, 2017 – June 30, 2020

Funding: $280,500

Keywords: Quantitative MRI, Deep grey matter, demyelination, iron accumulation


  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is heavily used in multiple sclerosis (MS). It is highly effective for diagnosis of the disease.
  • MRI is far less effective at tracking the disease progression and its response to therapy, largely due to reliance on only lesion measures. Other quantitative measures are needed.
  • The research team will:
    • Focus imaging on the central parts of the brain referred to as deep grey matter, which contains key brain structures relating to movement and brain processing.

Project Description:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – or MRI – is a powerful tool that enables clinicians and researchers to diagnose and monitor MS, as well as assess the effects of treatments. Research in this field is advancing quickly, however appropriate imaging measures that accurately track disease progression remain elusive. Dr. Alan Wilman’s project plans to test new MRI methods that may enable better tracking of MS by examining the whole brain. The idea is to create new ways of performing MRI that are specific to particular biological changes that occur in the brain (not just in lesions) such as examining deep parts of the brain that are linked to movement and where iron is stored. In this first year of research, the research team developed new MRI analysis methods and the application of these methods shows differences in MS types and changes in the imaging measures over two years. The researcher aims to develop a new way to monitor disease to enable physicians to make a more effective assessment of MS disease state and understand the effects of therapy.

Potential Impact: Develop new quantitative imaging of deep brain which may provide new understanding of MS disease evolution, and an objective tool for tracking MS disease progression.

Project Status: In Progress

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