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Signal-enhanced MRI contrast agents for neurodegeneration

Project description

Brain metabolism: a new diagnostic for neurodegeneration

Diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders is challenging and usually takes place too late, when symptoms such as memory or motor deficits are evident. At this stage, patients have suffered neuronal damage which prevents any further treatment. Funded by the European Research Council, the NeuroHyp project introduces the novel concept of monitoring metabolic changes in the brain as a diagnostic modality for the onset of neurodegeneration. The project capitalises on previously developed contrast MRI agents that can pick up differences in metabolites in the brain with diagnostic accuracy. The project will undertake the necessary activities to develop this technology into a clinical solution for the non-invasive diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders.


Despite decades of research, neurodegenerative diseases remain challenging to diagnose and identify on time. At the point external symptoms, such as memory or motor deficits become evident, the patient has usually suffered irreparable neuronal damage.
This not only decreases life quality and expectancy of the patient, but also severely limits our ability to design new effective treatments and apply existing ones in a timely manner. A promising approach for early diagnosis could be the visualisation of metabolic changes in the brain. There are specific differences in the points of origin for different neurodegenerative diseases. The fact that the metabolism of neurons change when they are exposed to internal or external stressors, makes detecting changes in the metabolism of specific brain regions in comparison to the rest of the organ a possible powerful tool to early diagnose the onset of neurodegeneration.
During the course of my ERC starting grant my team and I have developed new magnetic resonance technologies and contrast agents based on body own metabolites. These metabolic contrast agents can not only visualize overall metabolism of observed tissues but also show differences in the rate of resulting metabolites, further increasing the potential diagnostic accuracy. Before the developments made in my ERC project, especially a fast and simple approach to obtain such contrast agents was out of reach. In first experiments we provided evidence that my approach can be used to detect the onsets of Parkinson’s disease, one severe neurodegenerative illness.
With the project outlined in this PoC we now aim to determine the feasibility of our technology as a clinical solution and a business opportunity, to enable timely, straight forward, fast and non-invasive diagnosis for neurodegenerative diseases. The success of this project will be the first important step to bring our technology into the clinics and improve patient’s health on a global scale in the future.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
80539 Munchen

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Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)