Funding from The Lundbeck Foundation to Professor Sune N. Jespersen
Professor Sune N. Jespersen from CFIN has received funding from The Lundbeck Foundation's Ascending Investigator program to the project: ”NeuroScope”: Non-invasive mapping of early cellular changes in ALS”.
NeuroScope: Non-invasive mapping of early cellular changes in ALS
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is among the most feared age-related neurodegenerative disorders, partly due to its early onset and partly due to its dismal prognosis: ALS leads to muscle atrophy and patients gradually lose the ability to move, speak, and breathe. Most patients die of respiratory failure less than three years after the initial diagnosis. The diagnosis is primarily based on symptoms and clinical findings, often resulting in a long delay from symptom onset to diagnosis, adding to the distress for the patients and their families. The role of neuroimaging and neurophysiology is primarily to rule out other causes or to give supporting evidence if the clinical exam is equivocal. However, recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques and analysis methods developed by my group and collaborators, as well as other labs, have paved the way for potential breakthrough knowledge in ALS: we can now use advanced MRI to map, over the whole brain, specific cellular properties directly related to putative core pathological mechanisms in ALS. With the generous grant from the Lundbeck Foundation, we will apply these new state-of-the-art microstructural imaging methods to three distinct mouse models of ALS to identify MRI features that can detect ALS at an early stage. Based on the results, a faster protocol for in vivo MRI will be designed and tested in all three models at two disease stages. The relation to tissue pathology will then be validated with a battery of histological and stereological analyses. If the study is successful, the next steps will focus on the translation of the methods to a clinical setting so they can be used in ALS patients.
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Sune N. Jespersen