We recently awarded a New Investigator Grant to Jin Hyung Lee, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Neurology & Neurological Sciences and Bioengineering for her study “Direct Network Visualization of Alzheimer’s Drug Efficacy Using optogenetic functional MRI (ofMRI).”
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used in medical clinics to noninvasively image brain structure in living people. A version of MRI, functional MRI (fMRI), can be used to image brain activity by measuring blood flow and oxygen utilization to active brain regions.
Recently, scientists have developed another variation of fMRI known as optogenetic functional MRI (ofMRI). With ofMRI, researchers use light to activate nerve cells in a specific part of the brain, then image the brain to determine how activation spreads to other brain regions. At this time, ofMRI is used only in animal models because it requires surgical treatment of the brain to allow nerve cells to be activated by a pulse of light.
With this grant, Dr. Lee will look at using ofMRI as a way to test the effectiveness of drugs for treatment of animal models with Alzheimer’s-like disease. The technique may accelerate the development of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
For more about the Alzheimer’s Association research grants program, visit www.alz.org/research.
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