Study finds new way to predict MS diagnosis in children

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TORONTO – Early MRI scans can help predict the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) in children, which may permit earlier initiation of treatment, according to a new national study.

The study, led by The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and was performed as a part of the Canadian Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Network, is a 23-site study that includes all paediatric health-care facilities in Canada. MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. People with MS develop lesions (patches of inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS)) in which the neurons have been stripped of their myelin (insulating fatty protein).

In this study, the investigators created a rigorous scoring tool that was applied to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans from paediatric patients following their first acute CNS demyelinating attack.

Dr. Brenda Banwell, Principal Investigator of the study, Staff Neurologist and Senior Associate Scientist at SickKids, notes that while MRI has been used on adults in this manner, “this is the first time anyone has applied an MRI scoring tool to MRI scans from a population of at-risk paediatric patients. The study demonstrates that there are reliable MRI features present at the first clinical attack that indicate that the biology of MS is already established and has been going on for some time.”

The study is published in the November 7 advance online edition of Lancet Neurology and the full article can be found here.


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