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Doctors may soon be able to compare brain scans taken over time by the same patient and distinguish between healthy and diseased brain tissue without conducting an invasive or dangerous procedure, thanks to new research from Jewish researchers the University of Jerusalem.  Dr. Aviv Mezer and his team at the Amond Center for Brain Sciences have successfully converted a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan from a diagnostic camera that takes pictures of our organs, bones and nerves into a device that can record changes in the biological composition of brain tissue . This new MRI can help doctors more quickly determine the onset of the disease and begin treatment.
Mather said NMR has long been used as a way of analyzing the brain.
"Because we know how to measure water in a very efficient and accurate way, we can now see the other aspect: how water interacts with the environment," explained Maeser. "In this sense, we measure the composition of molecules."
He said this was a new level of information that had previously been hidden to the medical community.
Maeser compares this new way of reading NMR to taking a blood test.
"When we do a blood test, it shows us the exact number of white blood cells in our body and whether that number is higher than normal due to illness," said Maeser.
This new analysis provides such information for the brain.
"We know that when we look at the brain after death, there is a huge difference in macromolecules in different diseases – but now we can see these changes only after death," said Maeser. "The hope is that with our new approach, we will be able to see these macromolecules in the brain and detect the occurrence of neurogenerative diseases while humans are still alive."
In particular, Maeser believes that the new NMR technique will provide a decisive understanding of how our brains age. "When we scanned the brains of young and old patients, we saw that different areas of the brain were aging differently. For example, in some areas with white matter a decrease in brain tissue volume is observed while in gray matter the tissue volume remains constant. However, we have seen major changes in the molecular composition of the gray matter in younger versus older adults. ”
The result, he says, is that patients are more likely to get correct diagnoses earlier, speeding up when they start treatment, which would potentially could help them maintain an improved quality of life for longer – all through non-invasive techniques.
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