A translational study conducted at the University Hospital Erlangen and published in Nature Medicine demonstrates that Multispectral Optoacoustic Tomography (MSOT) can be used to visualize and quantify changes in tissue composition associated with the progression of the rare muscle disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). While the established clinical outcome measures largely rely on physiological and functional tests, MSOT imaging can be an objective modality to quantify the amount of muscular fibrosis, thereby potentially providing a non-invasive and more objective measurement of disease progression and treatment response.
DMD is the most common lethal inherited muscular disease occurring in about one of 5,000 male births. While affected boys can develop normally, at the age of 4 to 5 years a loss of muscle mass becomes apparent. By the age of 10, characteristic muscle weakness results in the loss of walking ability and finally in respiratory and cardiac failure. Until now, the assessment of disease progression is based on muscle examinations as well as functional testing. However, physical examinations rely on active cooperation and the individual performance on the day and require a minimum age, which limits their clinical utility.
Imaging approaches such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been investigated as non-invasive and objective disease assessment methods. However, complex scanning protocols limit their application and the need for sedation of very young patients still raises the need for independent easy-to-apply prognostic biomarkers in DMD.
The studies conducted at the University Hospital Erlangen (UHE) included tissues, experimental models, as well as 10 boys and 10 healty volunteers, aged 3 to 10 years. Results demonstrate that MSOT can visualize and quantify the distribution and concentration of collagen as a measure for degenerated muscular tissue, demonstrating a biomarker for DMD disease progression. ‘In this study we were able to visualize collagen in vivo using MSOT imaging’, says Dr. Adrian Regensburger, MD at UHE. ‘It suggests its application as a non-invasive, age-independent biomarker for DMD, thereby potentially filling the urgent clinical need for an easy and objective assessment of DMD disease progression and treatment monitoring’.
Christian Wiest, CEO at iThera Medical comments: ‘We are excited to see that MSOT can potentially aid DMD patients suffering from this severe disease. We will therefore continue to drive research for the use of our imaging technology in DMD and to expand its use into related fields.’
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