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2013 Grants - Lee
Direct Network Visualization of Alzheimer's Drug Efficacy Using optogenetic functional MRI (ofMRI)
Jin Hyung Lee, Ph.D.
2013 New Investigator Research Grant
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used in medical clinics to noninvasively image brain structure in living people. A version of MRI, functional MRI (fMRI), can be used to image brain activity by measuring blood flow and oxygen utilization to active brain regions.
Recently, scientists have developed another variation of fMRI known as optogenetic functional MRI (ofMRI). With ofMRI, researchers use light to activate nerve cells in a specific part of the brain, then image the brain to determine how activation spreads to other brain regions. At this time, ofMRI is used only in animal models because it requires surgical treatment of the brain to allow nerve cells to be activated by a pulse of light.
Jin Hyung Lee, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed to use ofMRI as a way to test the effectiveness of drugs for treatment of animal models with Alzheimer's-like disease. They will use mice that have been genetically altered to have an Alzheimer's-like condition, then use ofMRI to observe how the disease affects the activity of brain signaling pathways. The researchers will then treat the animals with drugs proposed as treatment for Alzheimer's and observe how the drug changes the activity of the brain signaling pathway. These studies may provide a more rapid way to test the effectiveness of drugs without scientists having to perform prolonged, laborious studies of animal behavior or learning. The technique may accelerate the development of drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease.