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New imaging approach promises insights into multiple sclerosis

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Researchers have developed a way to use three types of microscopic imaging techniques simultaneously to analyze living tissue and learn more about the molecular mechanisms of multiple sclerosis, information that could help lead to earlier detection and new treatments.

The combined imaging method is enabling the researchers to study how multiple sclerosis causes an overproduction of "astroglial filaments," which form bundles between critical nerve fibers and interfere with proper spinal cord functioning. The technique also promises to yield new information about how the disease degrades the myelin sheath, which insulates nerve fibers and enables them to properly conduct impulses in the spinal cord, brain and in the "peripheral nervous system" throughout the body, said Ji-Xin Cheng, an assistant professor in Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Chemistry.

The three imaging techniques - called sum frequency generation, two-photon-excitation fluorescence and coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering - ordinarily are used alone. Purdue researchers have developed a way to combine all three methods in the same platform, promising to reveal new details about the spinal cord and myelin sheath, Cheng said.

"Combining these three methods allows us to conduct more specific and precise molecular analyses," he said. "Ultimately, this work paves the way toward studying the degradation of the myelin sheath as a result of multiple sclerosis and analyzing living tissue to study the mechanisms of disease."

Multiple sclerosis affects more than 350,000 people in the United States and 2 million worldwide.

Findings will be detailed in a paper appearing in May in the Biophysical Journal and is currently online. The paper was authored by biomedical engineering doctoral student Yan Fu and postdoctoral research associate Haifeng Wang; Riyi Shi, an associate professor of basic med
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Contact: Emil Venere
venere@purdue.edu
765-494-4709
Purdue University
17-Apr-2007


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