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Funded Studies

Multimodal MR Imaging of the Midbrain for Early Parkinson’s Progression

Study Rationale:
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is marked by the loss of dopamine neurons in part of the midbrain, a section toward the base of the brain that serves important functions in movement. In the past decade, tremendous efforts have been invested in using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect early PD-related changes in the midbrain.

Novel MRI techniques (i.e. free-water diffusion and MR fingerprinting) can capture early PD-related changes over time and serve as sensitive progression markers for PD.

Study Design:
Forty early-stage PD patients and 40 matched control volunteers will undergo brain MRI and a battery of clinical tests at the start of the study (baseline) and 12 months later. We will assess MRI changes in the midbrain and the sensitivity of these measures.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
If successful, this study will provide a set of imaging biomarkers that can track early PD progression with high sensitivity. They then can be used in clinical trials to facilitate the development of new and/or neuroprotective agents.

Next Steps for Development:
The results of this study may yield objective imaging biomarkers that can be used to better understand disease and as an outcome measure in trials testing drugs to slow or stop PD progression.


  • Guangwei Du, MD, PhD

    Hershey, PA United States

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