Using magnetic resonance imaging in animal models to guide drug development in multiple sclerosis

There is increasing diversity of treatments available for MS and MRI is one of the main tools used to evaluate the effectiveness of MS in clinical trials.

This interesting review article looks at how MR imaging has been used in a range of animal models to evaluate potential therapeutics for MS, in addition to the potential of incorporating MRI into preclinical studies.

By incorporating MRI in preclinical studies, this may help in improving the design of clinical trials. By using MRI in testing novel therapeutics in animal models of MS, changes in MRI can be monitored and correlated with specific changes in tissue, such as remyelination. As well as this, studies involving potential new MS therapies in animal models with MRI should be carried out ideally before entering phase I clinical trials so that the effects of the drugs on MRI metrics are known prior to being applied in the human MS population. The lysolecithin model may be very useful for testing remyelinating agents that alter oligodendrocytes in the absence of destruction by lymphocytes.

This model could be used to test agents using MRI methods sensitive to myelin like DTI and MTI. The EAE model, with a large inflammatory component, is a good model for testing anti-inflammatory agents. While the cuprizone model may be useful at looking at strategies that recover mitochondrial function or disruption of energy metabolism by looking at perfusion and spectroscopy which are sensitive to changes in metabolic patterns. 

Authors: Nathoo N, Yong VW
Source: Mult Scler. 2013 Nov 21. [Epub ahead of print]
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