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Buffalo neuroimaging researchers studying multiple sclerosis from inside human brain

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Ten years ago people with multiple sclerosis could expect little from the medical profession other than drugs to help relieve their symptoms and canes or walkers to help them get around as their physical disabilities mounted.

That, however, was before researchers were able to focus the full power of biotechnology on the disease.

Today, by using advanced MRI brain imaging methods and tapping into one of the most powerful supercomputing systems in the world, University at Buffalo researchers in the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (BNAC) are providing insights into the disease that never before were possible.

Some researchers are creating three-dimensional images of the brain and brain structures of MS patients that show the process of atrophy under the disease's onslaught. Others are linking stages of atrophy with physical and cognitive symptoms and are developing a "standardized" image of the caudate nucleus in brains of patients that will serve as a model for assessing disease stage and predicting progression.

Still other scientists are using advanced imaging techniques and computing power to study the amount of whole-brain shrinkage that occurs in MS and to develop accurate ways to measure brain deterioration.

But perhaps the most important development to come out of the center is the UB researchers' discovery that the brain's gray matter, where higher functioning is centered, is involved in MS.

"Traditionally, MS was thought to be strictly a 'white matter disease,'" said Rohit Bakshi, M.D., UB associate professor of neurology and director of the BNAC, located in The Jacobs Neurological Institute at Kaleida Health's Buffalo General Hospital. "We thought it only affected the 'roadways' in the brain." White matter allows various gray-matter structures to communicate with each other.

The finding about gray matter resulted from their work with a brain structure situated deep in the gray matter calle
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
716-645-5000 x1417
University at Buffalo
16-May-2002


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