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Kent State Receives Research Grant to Investigate Neurodegenerative Diseases

Posted Mar. 5, 2012

Kent State University has received a medical research grant from the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) to investigate neurodegenerative diseases.

Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences Robert Clements, Ph.D., will work together with Kent State Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Ernie Freeman, Ph.D., and Professor of Chemistry Anatoly Khitrin, Ph.D., to study the generation of novel magnetic resonance (MR) imaging techniques to visualize inflammatory or degenerative mechanisms and the correlation to MR data with 3-D microscopic changes.

“Essentially, the use of our newly developed techniques will enhance our ability to image ongoing neuronal disease activity and the response to treatments using conventional MR scanning systems,” Clements says. “The research will also provide fundamental knowledge about disease activity at the cellular level. I am grateful to be given the opportunity to advance our knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases with the hope of helping to better diagnose and treat the debilitating states.”

Clements’ research is designed to generate and critically analyze innovative methods that will augment current patient assessment and drug efficacy. The completed objectives will create novel protocols for existing MR scanning systems, providing researchers and clinicians the ability to visualize structures in ways that are otherwise impossible with current methods.

“The newly developed procedures will be immediately relevant and available to provide clinicians and researchers with necessary and informative ways to visualize neuronal injury known to precede brain atrophy,” he says. “In addition, these strategies can be employed to monitor disease activity and therapeutic response.”

Clements says the research will provide an enhanced understanding of how volumetric cellular changes are associated with modified MR signals, allowing for the evaluation of many facets of multiple sclerosis (MS), including modified microvascular permeability, neuronal degeneration/protection, glial health, myelin ensheathment, infiltrate activity, lesion type, and identify biomarkers of activity and progression. 

The Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) is funded through the Department of Defense, via annual congressional legislation, known as the Defense Appropriations Act. The program promotes and funds innovative research to eradicate diseases.

For more information about the CDMRP, visit http://cdmrp.army.mil/default.shtml. For more information about Kent State’s Department of Biological Sciences, visit www.kent.edu/biology.