New analysis on MRI Biomarkers could assist in evaluating potential remedies for peripheral nerve illnesses

Newswise – DETROIT – Jun Li, MD, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology at Wayne State University School of Medicine, recently received an R-21 grant of $ 246,172 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop new strategies to evaluate appropriate treatments for peripheral nerve disorders.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is one of the most common hereditary peripheral nervous diseases that affects nearly 126,000 people in the United States and 2.6 million people worldwide, according to the NIH. CMT causes progressive muscle weakness, painful foot deformities, and difficulty walking. As the disease progresses, weakness and muscle wasting appear in the hands, leading to difficulties in fine motor skills.

Li said the goal of the project is to advance research into the disease progression of CMT using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biomarkers in the hope of expanding basic research to clinical study maturity.

“Although there are promising treatments for CMT, evaluations of potential treatments are hampered by a lack of responsive biomarkers,” said Li. “Our research is aimed at focusing on nerve MRI methods that we have developed to provide critical information and improve our ability to monitor disease progression in patients using MRI-based biomarkers from CMT. “

The nerve MRI methods developed by Li and his research team allow them to directly map the pathology of interest in the nerves themselves, providing complementary information and improving the ability to monitor disease progression in patients with CMT.

“The published results from our laboratories show that sciatic nerve magnetization transfer rates (MTR), which are sensitive to changes in myelin content due to dysmyelination and axonal loss, are related to disability in all CMT subtypes,” said Li. “Our additional preliminary data show that nerve MTRs respond to disease progression. “

The research team hopes these studies will provide them with new methods to better evaluate potential treatments for CMT and ultimately move them into clinical trials more quickly.

Richard Dortch, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Imaging Research at the Barrow Neurological Institute at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, is the co-lead researcher on the project.

The project number for this National Institutes of Health award is 1R21TR003312-01A1. For more information, see


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