World’s first longitudinal muscle study grows understanding of cerebral palsy development

NIF infrastructure is enabling the Muscle Growth in the Lower Extremity (MUGgLE) Study, the first longitudinal study comparing muscle growth in children with cerebral palsy and typically developing children.

The project is a collaboration between Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), the University of NSW (UNSW) and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute.

The National Health and Medical Research Council-funded study is using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare muscle growth between typically developing children and children with cerebral palsy, using high-resolution measurements of the architecture of whole muscles.

Researcher Dr Bart Bolsterlee said the longitudinal study will see the lower legs of over 300 children scanned, between the ages of 0-3 months and 5-14 years.

“They will be scanned three times, with one-and-a-half years in between scans. We analyse the images to look at the individual muscles and how they change in size and structure over time,” Dr Bolsterlee said.

“The key measures we are getting out of this study are not just the volume of muscles, but also the orientations and lengths of their muscle fibres, which is a key determinant of the function of a muscle.

“We also look at the fat content which is a compositional feature of muscles that is quite different between diseased muscles and healthy muscles.

The impacts of this research have real implications for children growing up in Australia, with one-in-seven hundred babies born with cerebral palsy.

“This is very much a fundamental research study – we don’t have any direct clinical outcomes that we are assessing – but what we do know about children with cerebral palsy, the leading cause of childhood physical disability in the western world, is that outcomes can be pretty poor,” Dr Bolsterlee said.

“One-in-three children with cerebral palsy cannot walk independently, and we know this has got something to do with disordered muscle growth.

“It’s obvious from cross-sectional studies that there are quite some differences between the muscles of children with cerebral palsy and their typically developing peers, but nobody has actually studied this longitudinally, so we don’t know when these changes occur.

“We believe that information is necessary to develop new treatments.”

Currently there is no cure for cerebral palsy, and often children undergo severe interventions including complex surgical procedures with drugs to improve daily functioning. These interventions can change muscle growth, but how that affects musculoskeletal function is poorly understood.

Dr Bolsterlee is part of the team developing imaging methods and algorithms to be able to study this, and they are now generating the first data to give a comprehensive picture of how muscles develop typically – and how they develop in children with cerebral palsy.

“Many of the tools that are out there were developed for the brain – I’d say 99% of diffusion imaging software is used to reconstruct the neuronal architecture of the brain. We had to adapt the acquisition protocols as well as the imaging analysis techniques to accommodate measurement of the specific features of muscles we are interested in,” Dr Bolsterlee said.

In addition to configuring the imaging software to analyse data for the muscles, Dr Bolsterlee said there was a lot to consider when optimising scanning protocols to get the best images possible, while scanning children within a limited time.

“I’ve been working at NeuRA for the better part of eight years on this – and it’s really nice to see the first proof of principle demonstrations being taken to large-scale research – and hopefully to clinical practice as well.

“We’ve developed algorithms that several groups around the world are now using,” Dr Bolsterlee said.

This research into muscle imaging has grown the understanding of the architecture of muscles globally.

“Most anatomical knowledge comes from textbooks that are based on dissections of cadaver legs, and these are usually from older people who’ve donated their bodies to science.

“We have a rough understanding of the fibre structure within muscles and how they sit between muscles, but it’s been very difficult to get any information from living human muscles.

“Muscle is one of the most adaptable human tissues in the human body – when you exercise, they get bigger and when you’re lying in bed for too long, they get smaller very quickly.

“So, it’s very important if you want to understand how muscles respond to various stimuli, to have in-vivo imaging methods – or methods that can be applied to living humans,” Dr Bolsterlee said.

Previously, researchers were limited to ultrasound in living patients, which was 2D and only able to capture muscles superficial to the skin because the ultrasonic waves have limited penetration depth.

The MRI diffusion imaging technique allows researchers to look at whole human muscles in 3D, which has led to discoveries in the complex fibre structure of muscles and how it changes when they contract, lengthen or are diseased.

For more information, listen to our podcast with Dr Bolsterlee and NIF Fellow, Dr Michael Green from NeuRA: The MUGgLE Study: Imaging to understand how muscles grow.

Inaugural NIF Scientific Symposium kicks off #NationalScienceWeek

Leading researchers, clinicians and industry attended the inaugural National Imaging Facility (NIF) Scientific Symposium on 12 August.

The event kicked off National Science Week for NIF, highlighting the critical role of collaboration in translating research challenges to benefit industry and keep Australians healthy, with the theme ‘National partnerships for innovation and impact’.

NIF CEO Prof Wojtek Goscinski said the Symposium was an excellent opportunity to highlight ground-breaking work from Australia’s world-class imaging community.

“It was a privilege to host experts from across Australia, including keynote speakers Prof Graeme Jackson, Prof Louise Emmet and Prof Gemma Figtree, whose work is at the leading edge of imaging globally,” Prof Goscinski said.

“I’d also like to extend my thanks to the presenters who delivered an excellent Technology Showcase session, and Health and Medical Translational Challenges session.

“A particular highlight was hearing from our industry partners, including Telix Pharmaceuticals, Clarity Pharmaceuticals, Cochlear and Nyrada, who discussed the way they engage with national imaging research infrastructure.

“NIF is privileged to have a strong network of world-leading expertise at our fingertips and it was an honour to bring some of these people together to present their work and share ideas at the 2022 Symposium,” he said.

Keynote presentations of the Symposium included:

  • ‘The Australian Epilepsy Project’, Prof Graeme Jackson
  • From mouse to Medicare: the PSMA story in Australia’, Prof Louise Emmett
  • Coronary artery imaging to inform the next Frontier of heart attack prevention’, Prof Gemma Figtree

The Technology Showcase session highlighted NIF’s latest capabilities, including tools for processing and interpreting data, and applications of imaging to solve complex problems, including:

  • ‘Ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging’, Prof Leigh Johnston and Prof Markus Barth
  • ‘Bringing imaging to rural Australia with a national network of low field mobile MR scanners’, Dr Zhaolin Chen
  • ‘Australian Imaging Service: The national platform for trusted data management and analysis’, Dr Ryan Sullivan
  • ‘Magnetic Particle Imaging’, Dr Andre Bongers
  • An insight into MicroCT imaging: recent advances, applications and impact on research and innovation’, Ms Diana Patalwala
  • Preclinical Research: The Crucial Step in Medical Advancements’, Dr Chris Christou

The Health and Medical Translation Challenges session provided an opportunity for attendees to hear from clinicians and researchers about their journey to making translational impact, including:

  • Neuroimaging in clinical trials: Perspectives of a clinician-researcher’, A/Prof Sylvia Gustin
  • The Australasian Radiopharmaceutical Trials network (ARTnet)’, A/Prof Ros Francis

The Industry Discussion Panel opened up conversation on how imaging accelerates and underpins innovation and future opportunities, with speakers:

  • Dr David Cade, Chief Executive Officer, Telix Pharmaceuticals Asia Pacific
  • Dr Matt Harris, Chief Scientific Officer, Clarity Pharmaceuticals
  • Dr Zachary Smith, Director, Algorithms and Applications, Cochlear
  • Dr Jasneet Parmar, Neuroscience Researcher, Nyrada Inc

Members of the NIF network recognised internationally as in-person conferences return

[Pictured: UNSW-NeuRA Facility Fellow, Dr Michael Green presented a study titled “Effect of Compressed SENSE on Freesurfer parcellation precision” which was a collaboration between NeuRA researchers, Philips Australia and New Zealand, and UNSW.]

In-person events have returned – and over the last few months, leading edge experts from the NIF network have attended, presented, and taken the opportunity to collaborate at conferences like ANZSNM and ISMRM.

We’re proud to acknowledge the members of the NIF network who have presented their globally significant work to the greater imaging communities.

We congratulate University of Sydney-ANSTO Node Co-Director, Prof Fernando Calamante as President of ISMRM on the success of the 2022 31st Annual Meeting hosted in London, UK in May.

We also recognise the incredible achievement of Dr Shawna Farquharson as recipient of the ISMRT 2022 Distinguished Service Award at the same event.

Back in Australia, NIF kicked off events with a Molecular imaging and Radiopharmaceuticals Capability Showcase at ANZSNM. We were honoured to invite world-class speakers from within our network, Prof Steven Meikle, A/Prof Roslyn Francis, Prof Gary Egan, Prof Kristofer Thurecht and Dr John Bennett to present during the NIF session.

We look forward to seeing more of our network at upcoming events – stay tuned for the NIF Scientific Symposium next month in Sydney. Save the date for Friday 12 August.


Here are some more highlights from the NIF network attending events so far this year:

Markus Barth

QLD Node Director

ISMRM

 

Why did you attend? Many reasons: present group results; moderator of sessions; member of study groups and initiatives

 

What was the highlight of the event for you? Catching up with fellow researchers

 

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? Best check the hybrid setup, i.e. what is available in person and what is available online

Michael Green

NeuRA Facility Fellow

ISMRM

Why did you attend? Primarily it was a great way to re-connect with colleagues and share ideas in an old-fashioned, non-Zoom type of way. I presented a study titled “Effect of Compressed SENSE on Freesurfer parcellation precision” which was a collaboration between NeuRA researchers, Philips Australia and New Zealand, and UNSW. The study assessed the reliability of an MRI acceleration techniques designed to speed up the time it takes to acquire images. We wanted to provide a guideline for MR researchers wanting to reduce scan time while acquiring high quality data.

 

What was the highlight of the event for you? The face-to-face aspect of a conference was a real highlight. It was a nice compliment and surprise to see Philips also present data from our study to a global audience as validation for their acceleration techniques employed on their MRI machines. I also received some interesting feedback regarding the study analysis which I may implement before publishing the manuscript.

 

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? Study the conference schedule well before attending then pick and choose which seminars you’d like to attend. Then talk to as many people as possible. In person!

Joseph Ioppolo

UWA Facility Fellow

ANZSNM

Why did you attend? This is a good meeting to attend to connect with the other radiochemists in Australia. Due to COVID I had not had a chance to do this in a long while. I was also very keen to see the Q-TRaCE labs at Royal Brisbane, as we have a good working relationship between them and us at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. I was able to let people know I had moved across to the NIF Node at UWA and was able to speak about our new lab and facilities being built now in Perth during my talk on the Saturday

What was the highlight of the event for you? While ANZSNM was a great chance to hear some great talks and connect with a lot of people, it was also exciting to tour the labs at Q-TRaCE and the Centre for Advanced Imaging at UQ, where we also had our national Cyclotron User Group meeting.

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? There are just not that many radiochemists in Australia, and the ANZSNM (along with the EPSM) is a great opportunity to see meet each other in person and see how the radiopharmaceuticals we make are being used to image and treat disease around the country.

 

Sjoerd Vos

UWA Facility Fellow

ISMRM

 

Why did you attend? I presented a project shared between my current role as NIF fellow and my previous job in London.

 

What was the highlight of the event for you? My highlight was discussing potential new collaborations within Australia and internationally.

 

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? I think this is also a key reason to go to these conferences – to help explore new collaborations to benefit our imaging centres and community.

Shenjun Zhong

Monash Informatics Fellow

ISMRM (Virtual)

Why did you attend? My abstract was accepted as an online power pitch presentation in the ISMRM 2022 conference. And I virtually co-chaired one of the gather.town sessions in the theme of imaging processing and analysis.

What was the highlight of the event for you? The main highlight was the talk provided by one of the famous AI researchers, Yann LeCun, and his topic was ‘Future AI research in medical imaging‘. The key take-home message is the shifting from supervised to self-supervised learning framework in general AI and medical imaging research.

Neuro Imaging to examine high rates of dementia in older Aboriginal Australians

Early life stress (ELS) has been linked to abnormalities in brain structure and function and may contribute to increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia later in life. ELS has also been associated with the high prevalence of dementia observed in older Aboriginal Australians.

A study at NIF’s UNSW Node, NeuRA Imaging is engaging the Australian Aboriginal community to investigate structural and pathological brain changes that underlie in high rates of dementia and cognitive decline in older Aboriginal Australians.

This will be the first study that investigates neuroimaging in cognitive impairment in older Aboriginal Australians and will inform dementia prevention, diagnosis and policy. It will also contribute to the wider literature on vascular risk in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and associated biomedical and social risk factors.

After extensive community engagement with partnering Aboriginal communities including La Perouse, NSW, the initial consultation stage of NeuRA’s Koori Growing Old Well Study indicated that neuroimaging should be included in future dementia studies (Lavrencic et al., 2020, Int Psychogeriatr). Led by NeuRA’s, researchers including Dr Kylie Radford, Professor Tony Broe AM and Dr Louise Lavrencic, the Koori Growing Old Well Study included a community planning survey, pilot MRI study and guidance from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Steering Committee.

“NIF’s capabilities are allowing this study to investigate underlying brain changes and pathology in ageing and dementia in partnership with Aboriginal communities. The study will give greater detail and is using sophisticated and novel MRI techniques. By having the facility in-house at NeuRA it also means we can ensure a culturally safe and welcoming environment for our participants. With a rapidly ageing population and high rates of dementia, we hope that this ground breaking study will shed light on important ways to promote healthy brain ageing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” said Dr Kylie Radford, Senior Research Scientist and Group Leader, Neuroscience Research Australia.

The neuroimaging sub-study is a prospective, cross-sectional non-interventional study where participants will first complete a comprehensive interview and diagnostic assessment as part of the Koori Growing Old Well study. Consenting participants (200) aged 55+ will undergo MR scans with an expected study completion by 2023.

The outcome analyses will include identifying associations between cognitive impairment and hippocampal atrophy/volume and vascular indices on MR. Vascular pathology will be examined for cases of possible or probable Alzheimer’s disease compared to a cognitively intact control group. Correlations between MR measures and early life stress, adult risk and protective factors, cognitive function, and clinically diagnosed cognitive impairment will be investigated.

Privacy Settings
Youtube
Vimeo
Google Maps