Brain atrophy is a relatively direct measure of tissue loss that has been proposed as a marker of disease progression in multiple sclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases. The objective of this project is to evaluate the commercial potential of a software package that automatically measures brain atrophy from magnetic resonance (MR) images. BIOMEC will determine the capabilities and limitations of the software to analyze images acquired under different conditions, typical in clinical settings. Ideally, the results should be consistent, regardless of the scanner manufacturer, slice thickness, or field strength. Ten normal subjects will be imaged under 6 different sets of conditions: Siemens 1.5T (5mm), Picker 1.5T (5mm), GE 1.5T (5mm), Siemens 1.5T (3mm), Siemens 1.0T (5mm), and Siemens 0.2T Open MR (5mm). The atrophy analysis program will be run on images acquired with each set of conditions. If needed, changes to the software will be made to improve the reliability of the measurements. Qualitative assessment by experts and statistical evaluation of the numerical results will provide direction for commercialization. A commercially available software package will assist pharmaceutical companies in assessing drug effectiveness and will be useful in clinical settings to monitor neurodegenerative disorders.
A range of 300,000 to 500,000 people in the United States alone suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS). Brain atrophy measurement is a promising tool for evaluating drug treatments over time and for treating and diagnosing MS in a clinical setting. In addition, atrophy measurement has the potential to assist in the clinical assessment of numerous other neurological disorders.