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research-and-clinical-trials

UMN researchers connecting links to sleep issues and Parkinson’s disease

It is estimated that 50-60 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease have disordered sleep. Colum MacKinnon, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota is embarking on a study that is looking at the link between abnormal muscle activity during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in people with Parkinson’s disease and how the disease progresses.

MacKinnon’s long term goal of the research is to be able to identify specific REM sleep features that are predictive of disease onset and progression, so clinicians can better diagnose and possibly treat neurological disease well before it manifests.

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research-and-clinical-trials

CMRR and HCMC collaborate to study traumatic brain injury effects on vision

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) and Hennepin County Medical Center’s (HCMC) Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Center are collaborating on an innovative research project to help people who experienced TBI and still suffer from lingering vision effects.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Fulbright-Saastamoinen Foundation Grant helps speed up research on Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and deep brain stimulation

A six-month Fulbright-Saastamoinen Foundation Grant provided a collaboration boost between Shalom Michaeli, Ph.D., professor at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) at the University of Minnesota and Olli Gröhn, Ph.D., professor and director of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit and vice director of the A.I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Science at Kuopio Campus at the University of Eastern Finland.

“During my time in Finland, we made significant progress in establishing MRI biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease (PD) and multiple sclerosis (MS),” said Michaeli. “Noninvasive MRI rotating frame relaxation contrasts developed at the CMRR in close collaboration with the Kuopio team are highly sensitive to slow motion, and could probe critically important processes, such as demyelination, and could serve as noninvasive biomarkers for PD and MS.”

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research snapshot: A more precise diagnosis for oral cancer

Identifying whether oral cancer has reached the mandible (jawbone) can create uncertainties early on or with small tumors for patients and health care providers.

“Right now, we identify oral cancer’s invasion into the jaw through clinical examination or CT scans but current technology often falls short, especially with early invasions. The problem is there are often uncertainties in knowing how far the cancer has spread,” said Samir Khariwala, M.D., surgeon and assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Minnesota. “For this reason, planning surgery is difficult and there is risk of taking out too much bone or not enough because we don’t know the degree of invasion ahead of time.”

There is, however, a technique available which will allow you to avoid the uncertainty of surgery, the amount of recovery time and the need for additional reconstructive surgery altogether.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research snapshot: New neuroimaging method to research the aging brain

Testing for age-related metabolic decline and loss of cognitive function could soon be seeing improvements.

By developing new ultrahigh field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) technologies, researchers at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) at the University of Minnesota, recently investigated whether new developments could aid in better understanding aging and metabolic disorder in human brains.

Following the establishment of an in vivo assay of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) – a test that works well for human brain application – U of M researchers have developed a new testing technique.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: Unmatched insights into deep brain stimulation through MRI

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a procedure that is used to treat movement disorders including Parkinson’s disease, tremor and dystonia. To improve symptoms, a DBS lead (insulated wire) is surgically inserted deep within the brain in sites known to control movement.

Electrical impulses are sent from the neurostimulator, also known as a brain pacemaker, to the lead implanted in the brain. The stimulation changes the pattern of electrical activity in the brain into a more normal pattern, thereby improving symptoms and returning more normal movement to patients.

Choosing the target location for the lead is of critical importance. Standard protocol among physicians around the world is to use a brain atlas developed from two French women who donated their brains to science many years ago. From there physicians superimpose the patient’s own brain MRI images and calculate a plan to implant the electrodes in the brain.

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