ELA international symposium on MRI technologies

Renowned scientific and medical experts working in the field of hypomyelinating leukodystrophies and neuroradiology (see list below) and members of the ELA Foundation’s Scientific Committee met on October 13th in Leipzig, Germany for the ELA international symposium titled “MRI markers of efficacy for clinical tests on hypomyelinating leukodystrophies”.

Currently, MRI (or Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is the only tool which can be used to diagnose hypomyelination which is a lack of myelin. It is still early days for therapeutic tests for hypomyelinating leukodsytrophies and we urgently need to identify markers to evaluate the potential benefits of experimental treatments.
The objective of the working group, directed by Drs David Rowitch and Wolfgang Köhler, members of the ELA Scientific Committee, and the neuroradiology expert Professor James Barkovich, was to identify clinical and radiological MRI assessment criteria which could reasonably be used for future clinical trials.

ELA MRI Workshop - Group picture

Before getting to the main subject, the group discussed basic myelin biology and the clinical challenges linked to hypomyelinating leukodsytrophies. The following MRI techniques were then described and discussed at length:

  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Magnetization transfer in MR
  • nuclear magnetic resonance diffusion imaging
  • neuromuscular monitoring with resonance imaging and the myelin water fraction
  • quantitative MRI

Next there was a stimulating multidisciplinary discussion around questions such as:

  • Which clinical parameters are specific to hypomyelinating leukodsytrophies?
  • Can myelin be quantified by existing technologies?
  • Which are the best techniques and how can these be integrated into clinical tests?
  • Which are the most appropriate radiological parameters?
  • How can myelin be quantified?

The discussions between the experts led to the identification of clinical and radiological MRI criteria which will be used both to assess experimental therapies and to improve diagnosis and medical monitoring of patients with hypomyelinating leukodsytrophies. The group also identified future lines of research aimed at developing MRI technologies and measuring myelin.
The group of multidisciplinary experts’ recommendations and consensus advice will soon be made public after publication in a scientific journal.

The experts invited

Name    AffiliationArea of expertise
James BARKOVICHUniversity of California, San Francisco, CA, USAPediatric neuro-imaging
Geneviève BERNARD McGill University, Montreal, CanadaClinical research into leukodystrophies
Enrico BERTINIBambino Gesù Hospital, Rome, ItalyClinical research into leukodystrophies
Sean DEONIBrown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USAMRI
Steffi DREHA-KULACZEWSKIUniversity of Göttingen, GermanyClinical and MRI research into leukodystrophies
Charles ffrench-CONSTANT MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Edinburgh, ScotlandResearch into myelin
Günther HELMSUniversity of Göttingen, GermanyClinical and MRI research into leukodystrophies
Wolfgang KÖHLERUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, GermanyClinical research into multiple sclerosis and myelin illnesses in adults
Alfried KOHLSCHÜTTERUniversité du Centre Médical Eppendorf, Hambourg, AllemagneClinical research into leukodystrophies
Petra POUWELSVU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, NetherlandsClinical research into leukodystrophies
William RICHARDSONUniversity College London, United KingdomResearch into myelin
David ROWITCHUniversity of California, San Francisco, CA, USAClinical research into leukodystrophies
Adeline VANDERVERChildren’s National Medical Center, Washington DC, USAClinical research into leukodystrophies
Ronald WANDERS Academic Medical Centre, NetherlandsResearch into peroxysosomal illnesses
Nicole WOLFVU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, NetherlandsClinical research into leukodystrophies