Quantitative MRI has clear scientific and clinical advantages. Just as we measure child’s height or a patient’s temperature, we need qMRI in order to measure the brain.
An important, seldom-appreciated, inherent limitation of most current clinical MRI methods is that most diagnoses are based on a qualitative assessment of image appearance. The qualitative nature of most MRI data significantly limits their utility since, without units, it is impossible to rigorously compare images obtained at different MR sites, or even from the same individual at different points in time.
Just as we have units to record the changes in a child’s height or a patient’s temperature, we need qMRI measurements in order to longitudinally study brain development, or the effect of a drug on neural tissue. Nevertheless, current diagnostic practice is rarely based on qMRI, due to practical limitations (for example, long scan duration, low signal-to-noise ratio, low accuracy and the use of unique nonclinical scan sequences).
The great advantage of our recently developed qMRI application is its efficiency, which enables measuring at high resolution (roughly 1 mm3), in clinically relevant time (~12 min) and with high reliability across time, sites and vendors.
In the lab, we are focusing on multiple sclerosis, and we are testing the methods for diagnostic purposes. Along with our collaborators, we are also applying qMRI methods to other brain disorders, such as anorexia, myotinic dystrophy, amblyopia and dyslexia.