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Brain Lesions Predict MS Progression
Date:8/28/2007

Finding could lead to better diagnoses and therapies, researchers say

TUESDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Certain types of lesions on the brains of multiple sclerosis patients may help predict the severity of disease progression and the accompanying disability, researchers are reporting.

"This is a new way to try to understand what is changing in the tissue of the patient's lesions," said lead researcher Dr. Rohit Bakshi, associate professor of neurology and radiology at Harvard Medical School and director of Clinical MS-MRI at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Partners MS Center, in Boston.

The new findings, based on magnetic resonance images of the brain, may help doctors both diagnose multiple sclerosis more accurately and identify patients at greater risk for disease progression and disability, said Bakshi, a neurologist and neuroimager and senior author of the study, published in the September issue of the journal Radiology.

"The standard MRI measurements are poor at telling us how severe the disease is and telling us how patients are likely to do several years later, how the disease is going to progress and respond to therapy," Bakshi said.

Bakshi and his colleagues used an MRI image called a T1-weighted image and found that specific lesions on that image seemed to predict how severe the disease would get.

"The type of lesions we are describing are relatively new," he said. "Called T1 hyperintense lesions, they look bright when you look at the image." They are different than the lesions known as T2 hyperintense lesions, he said.

MS affects about 400,000 people in the United States, most of them women between the ages of 20 and 50, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates. The disease is chronic and marked by the destruction of myelin, the protective layer surrounding the body's nerve cells. As the disease progresses, it can affect many bodily functions and can re
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