Experts from the Masaryk University Ceitec Institute hope to improve the diagnosis of two serious diseases associated with a decrease in the volume of brain matter: multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. They were able to secure a prestigious European Union grant awarded as a part of the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Action under the Horizon 2020 programme that will allow bringing the most advanced imaging techniques from the US to Europe and, most importantly, to hospitals where they can be used to help patients.
“Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis are serious neurological disorders. Currently, there is no treatment that would cure them. We can only manage the symptoms. However, higher-resolution equipment and more precise brain imaging could help us detect pathological brain changes earlier on and use a more effective strategy to fight these diseases,” says neurologist Martin Bareš, the recipient of the 162,000 euro (nearly 4.5 million Czech crowns) grant.
The Microbradam project aims to transfer new knowledge and MRI technologies, verify their effectiveness and introduce them into regular clinical practice. Besides Ceitec MU, the project also partners with universities and scientific centres in Italy and Finland as well as the University of Minnesota in the US, which is one of top 100 best-rated universities globally.
In the coming months, technical personnel as well as physicians will travel to the United States to learn about new ways of using MRI. By mid-2016, experts from Ceitec MU will start verifying these procedures with patients.
“Thanks to the better resolution and higher accuracy of these new technologies, we might be able to track the development of brain degeneration and the contributing factors to improve diagnostics and also therapy,” adds Bareš. This is something that concerns a large number of patients. There are around 40,000 people with Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis in the Czech Republic.
Bareš highlights that Ceitec MU was awarded the prestigious grant in part because it owns MRI machines with magnetic fields of 3 Teslas, which are beginning to replace the current healthcare standard of 1.5-Tesla MRI machines.