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UMN researchers will map, study new areas of the brain through improved fMRI technology

New grants through President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative will allow University of Minnesota researchers to dive deeper into the brain, developing new imaging technology with the potential to map and study neural activity to much greater detail.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Could MRI be used to help detect cracks in teeth?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology may be able to help dentists identify those cracks sooner, and intervene before significant damage is done, and/or determine if the tooth is salvable (i.e., not worth crowning), a new study from the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) found.

“Dental MRI,” or imaging of teeth, has never been studied before.

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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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