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Expanding MRI Imaging for A-T Beyond the Brain to Lungs

2015 – Recently, Stephen Rose, Kate Sinclair and Martin Lavin from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, successfully used a special kind of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), called diffusion MRI, to examine the brains of people with A-T at various ages. They observed changes in the cerebellum and in projections from the cerebellum to other parts of the brain that help control movement, and published their findings in the scientific journal Movement Disorders.

Now, the A-T Children’s Project is continuing its support of Dr. Rose, who has become Acting Director for the Herston Imaging Research Facility at Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital in Australia, to expand his unique imaging techniques beyond the brain to the lung disease that occurs with A-T.

Pulmonary disease is a common feature of A-T, and medical imaging can play a critical role in monitoring its progression. But the conventional technique for imaging the lungs, computed tomography, exposes people to radiation and therefore must be avoided to minimize radiation exposure to A-T patients who have increased sensitivity. And until now, MRI, which involves no exposure to radiation, has been inefficient at capturing certain aspects of lung anatomy and disease.

Dr. Rose, however, believes that recent technical advances may overcome these limitations of MRI, making it effective for evaluating lung problems in A-T patients. Enrolling 10 children with A-T and 10 healthy, aged-matched individuals, he will determine if a special type of MRI, called ultra short echo time MRI, can identify lung abnormalities in A-T. If his hunch is right, doctors will be able to perform more frequent, routine monitoring of the lungs in patients with A-T, allowing for earlier diagnosis of lung problems and more aggressive treatment.


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