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University of Minnesota magnetic resonance research aims to shed new light on Friedreich’s ataxia

“When I was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia at the age of 17, it was a big blow for me and my family,” said Kyle Bryant, Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) spokesperson and advocate. “We had no treatment, no cure and no hope.”

For people with Friedreich’s ataxia, like Bryant, FA affects the entire family and support system. This rare, debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder often confines its patients to wheelchairs for the rest of their lives amongst other serious physical issues including diabetes mellitus, vision impairment and aggressive scoliosis.

Bryant is fighting back against FA and is doing what he can to help find a cure by participating in a research study at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) in conjunction with the Ataxia Center.

During his recent visit, Bryant underwent several scans using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to help co-principal investigators Isabelle Iltis, Ph.D., and Christophe Lenglet, Ph.D., get a better understanding of how FA affects both the brain and spinal cord.

“The spinal cord has never been investigated in patients so far,” said Iltis. “This research and subsequent research should really help us get closer to finding a cure for FA.”

In addition to his efforts with personally participating in FA research, Bryant is also the national spokesperson for Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) and founded Ride Ataxia, a nationwide bike ride fundraiser benefiting FARA.

For more information about FA research studies, please visit the FARA and Ataxia Center sites.

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