Uncovering primary and secondary disease processes in spinal cord disorders
We focus on non-invasive neuroimaging of structural and functional changes in neurological disorders affecting the spinal cord by applying cutting-edge imaging techniques. We are situated in Zürich where we are proud to have created a creative, collaborative and open-minded Neuroscience Lab. Our team has scientific experts working on all areas from the initial acquisition of the data at the MRI scanner to the final data analysis.
Embodied neurology is an integrative framework based on explicit biophysical models that aims to characterize complex neurological disorders and minimize their impact on patients by considering functional interactions between hierarchically related supra-spinal, spinal and peripheral regions simultaneously.
From a systems biology perspective, the brain and spinal cord are interwoven with the body: they are ‘embodied’. Freund et al. propose an integrative framework based on biophysical models that aims to characterize neurological disorders and minimize their impact on patients by considering functional interactions between supra-spinal, spinal and peripheral regions simultaneously.
Our Current Focus
Spinal cord and brain at 7T using qMRI
This project aims to assess the reproducibility of ultra-high field qMRI and resting-state fMRI of the cervical spinal cord and brain at 7T scanner in a multi-center study, with Zurich as coordinating center.
Simultaneous brain and spinal cord qMRI to assess focal and remote neurodegeneration after SCI
This project aims to enable the simultaneous analysis of brain and spinal cord MRI data in order to understand the focal and remote neurodegeneration induced by a SCI.
Antibodies against Nogo-A to enhance regeneration and functional recovery after acute spinal cord injury, a multicenter European clinical proof of concept trial
This project aims to apply a novel qMRI protocol covering brain and cervical cord down to C4 level as a sub-study within the clinical trial NISCI (www.nisci-2020.eu) to identify iron and myelin-changes in the spinal cord and brain and correlate them to the level of deficit and functional improvement of the patients in the two treatment groups (ATI355 vs. placebo).
Metabolic changes in the CNS after SCI or DCM using MRS
In this project, we investigate the metabolic changes above and below the level of injury and in distinctive brain regions of spinal cord injury (SCI) and degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) patients.
The impact of spinal cord perfusion deficits and hypoxia on recovery in human SCI
This project aims to apply quantitative MRI (qMRI) techniques, such as intra voxel incoherent motion (IVIM) MRI (estimates blood perfusion in tissue) and quantitative BOLD (qBOLD) (estimates change of (de-) oxyhaemoglobin molecules) allow quantifying in-vivo hemodynamics in the injured spinal cord.
Tracking sensorimotor impairment after focal CNS lesions
In this project, we explore changes in sensory and motor information flow and processing between the brain and cervical spinal cord in different central nervous system (CNS) pathologies.
Brain (re)organisation following major sensory input loss
This project aims to assess how map-like brain representations may change and/or stay remarkably similar following spinal cord injury.
Tracking sensorimotor function in the lumbar cord after SCI
In this project, we aim to implement a lumbar fMRI technique to track sensorimotor function in the lumbosacral cord after spinal cord injury (SCI).
Imaging spinal cord injury and assessing its predictive value
This project aims to implement an advanced quantitative MRI (qMRI) protocol for the brain and spinal cord in traumatic SCI and DCM patients at three international sites (Balgrist University Hospital, Zurich Switzerland, Toronto Western Hospital, Canada; Central MRI center Institute of Neurology, UCL London, UK) on 3 Tesla MRI scanners based on two different vendors.
The prospective ProCSM study follows patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) by morphometric and phase contrast MRI to assess the impact of spinal cord movement as biomarker in DCM. Patients are followed by a standardized clinical (AIS, mJOA, Nurick Score SCIM) and neurophysiological (dermatomal SEPs, contact heat evoked potentials, CHEPs) protocol for 5 years
Myelination, a proxy for motor skill learning?
In this project, we apply novel microstructural MRI methods at 3T to describe, in unprecedented temporal and spatial detail, the effect of motor learning on the human brain at the tissue level in vivo.
Spinal Cord Injury Center Balgrist
University of Zürich