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Using MRI to monitor the progression of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

In this project, Professor Chris Clark from University College London will be using an MRI technique called the Dixon method to measure the progression of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) by looking at the water and fat content in the muscles of people with DMD.
Principal Investigator
Professor Chris Clark
University College London
Official title
Diffusion MRI as a new biomarker of pathology in Duchenne muscular dystrophy
24 months
Total cost
Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Project background

People with DMD should have regular check-ups to assess the progression of their condition. One of the checks that can be carried out is a biopsy, which is effective, but is invasive and uncomfortable and can’t be done too often.

A good alternative to a muscle biopsy is MRI, which is not invasive and, unlike biopsies, can test whole muscles. It can also be repeated many times.

In DMD, like several other muscle-wasting conditions, fat and scar tissue replace muscles as the condition progresses. The Dixon method MRI technique can produce images of fat and water in muscles. This can be useful for measuring the later stage progression of DMD. However, it’s not sensitive enough to detect early changes in muscles and being able to monitor early-stage progression is important for successful management of DMD.

What the project aims to do

The researchers aim to develop a new MRI method sensitive enough to detect changes in muscle tissue during the early stages of DMD, and potentially for other muscle-wasting conditions.

Why this research is important

Being able to monitor the progression of any muscle-wasting condition early can have a strong positive impact on managing your condition from the outset. And a non-invasive technique is preferrable to a muscle biopsy. It could also be used in clinical trials to measure how a treatment is working.

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