Development of novel methods to monitor tissue metabolism and microstructure
Ultra high field MR spectroscopy
MR spectroscopy can be used to directly monitor brain metabolism in pathological conditions or following drug treatment . Ultra-high MR spectroscopy has significant advantages including increased signal to noise ratio and increased spectral dispersion. However there are also challenges including, optimization of B0 and B1 fields, and development of methods for precise absolute metabolite quantification.
Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) is a powerful magnetic resonance modality that provides a wealth of information about anatomical microstructure, structural connectivity, and pathological changes within the brain. Many developmental and pathological processes alter tissue microstructure and composition leading to transformed diffusion patterns within white matter regions. Thus DTI methods offer a powerful probe to characterize these subtle microstructural changes non-invasively. More advanced diffusion approaches are currently being explored including Neurite Orientation Dispersion and Density Imaging (NODDI). This diffusion MRI technique aims to estimate the microstructural complexity of dendrites and axons. NODDI aims to overcome the limitations of DTI through the use of a tissue model which distinguishes between three separate microstructural environments: intra-neurite, extra-neurite, and CSF compartments.
Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer (CEST)
The development of chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) methods to accurately measure tissue pH under various conditions (ischemia, cancer) requires further development. Using tissue models of disease, optimization and calibration of CEST methods continues to be an area of research focus.