4th Annual World Congress
The International Brain Mapping and Intra-operative Surgical Planning Society
At the opening of the 3-day IBMISPS congress, held in Washington D.C., which focused on image guided therapy, interdisciplinary interaction and intervention, Babak Kateb, founder and executive director of IBMISPS, said: “The ultimate mission for IBMISPS is to bring technology, cutting edge research and medicine to those who needed the best.” A key technology in brain mapping and intra-operative imaging, he added, will be nanotechnology.
With an annual investment of $3.8 billion more than 130 nanotech drug or delivery systems are already in development.
One such development is the use of Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUID’s) as a detector to perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technology relies on the use of super-cooled and very sensitive MRI conductors, resulting in enhanced imaging of biological tissues without the need for radiocontrast agents – which have shown adverse effects, the latest is the possible cases of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis in patients with severe kidney failure seem to be associated with the application of gadolinium.
Furthermore, unlike high-field MRI, that uses precession fields of up to several tesla, the SQUID-detected MRI uses measurement fields that lie in the microtesla regime. ‘Such low-radiation devices could be used for research of the foetal brain’, explained Lt. Col. Christian Macedonia MD, during his scientific session Imaging research opportunities directed toward a better understanding of the assembly of the human brain. They also could be the solution for the challenges associated with the EU directive 2004/40/EC, with its strict electromagnetic field exposure-limit values. Although clinical communities, research communities, industry and patient groups are sure that the European Parliament will agree on a four-year delay or modification of the directive soon, the uncertain future of MRI practice in Europe is actually a big problem.
Deriving from the SQUID technique, NASA currently develops a low-weight, cryogen-free, ultra-low-field MRI prototype-system. Although being developed for space flight this new MRI system could also well be used on earth, as it is capable of imaging patients with metallic implants without significant distortion.
In more than 70 sessions specialists from a range of medical disciplines were informed about other brilliant inventions. The lecturers also pointed up, that existing technology also has a lot to offer.
Dr Mike Modo BSc MSc PhD, Wolfson Lecturer in Stem Cell Imaging, recited on MRI-guided Transplantation of Neural Stem Cells in Stroke. Neural stem cells could be used to replace cells that were lost during acute brain damage, e.g. a stroke, or chronic neurodegeneration, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. However, transplantation of neural stem cells is still an experimental treatment. Limited survival of the grafts is a major disadvantage and the process is as yet poorly understood. ‘But MRI is a core technology to monitor the extension of the suffered brain damage prior to stem cell treatment and helps neurosurgeons to determine, where stem cells have to be transplanted,’ Dr Modo explained.
Piotr Walczak MD, of John Hopkins University School of Medicine, picked up the theme. In the Institute for Cell Engineering researchers developed a method that enables tracking of transplanted neural stem cells in vivo by using Bioluminescence and MRI.
The event was a huge success and there was such a wealth of information presented, that the IBMISPS organising committee decided on a one day extension of their next Annual World Congress (Los Angeles. 26-30 August 2008).
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