Center for Neurological Studies Involved in Breakthrough Research into Parkinson’s Disease

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Clinical study of 21 patients suffering Parkinson’s disease has become a major research proposal involving a collaboration between the U.S. and China and the Novi-based Center for Neurological Studies (CNS).

"...this could be a major breakthrough that allows these patients to benefit from a host of disease management approaches they may not have otherwise received...”

What started with a small, clinical study of 21 patients suffering Parkinson’s disease has become a major research proposal involving a collaboration between the U.S. and China and the Novi-based Center for Neurological Studies (CNS).

“We’re excited to have CNS a part of this study,” said E. Mark Haacke, PhD, a co-sponsor of the study and director of the Detroit-based MRI Institute for Biomedical Research. “CNS brings a wealth of experience in the use of sensitive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to diagnose brain disorders.”

Parkinson’s, which affects almost five million people worldwide, can take on multiple forms, including idiopathic Parkinson’s or IPD, which has no known cause, and vascular Parkinson’s or VP, which is marked by abnormal blood flow to the brain.

In a clinical study of 21 patients diagnosed with IPD, more than half showed reduced blood flow from the left side of the brain out the neck, suggesting a strong vascular association with some forms of Parkinson’s disease.

“If the results of this study were applied to all patients diagnosed with IPD—that is, if the cause of their Parkinson’s is actually reduced blood flow to the brain—this could be a major breakthrough that allows these patients to benefit from a host of disease management approaches they may not have otherwise received,” said Randall Benson, CNS Medical Director and one of the study’s principal investigators.

If funded, researchers from the MRI Institute for Biomedical Research and the Union Hospital in Wuhan, China, will evaluate two groups of patients, including a study group of 150 patients diagnosed with IPD and 50 patients diagnosed with VP. The control group will include 200 individuals of the same age as members of the study group. The study has the potential to be funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The MRI technique in use with all patients is Susceptibility-Weighted Imaging (SWI). SWI uses algorithms that differentiate the densities of adjacent brain tissues. The technique is 3-to 6-times more sensitive than typical MRI scans as it accounts for all brain elements, not just the brain’s white matter.

Use of SWI and other MRI techniques by researchers will allow them to evaluate blood flow to the brain in addition to dense parts of the brain, known as white matter hyperintensities, and the brain’s iron content. Some studies suggest higher levels of iron in the brain may be the cause behind some Parkinson’s cases.

As a board-certified neurologist, Dr. Benson’s role will be to evaluate the scans of study participants.

Dr. Benson holds a dual fellowship in behavioral neurology and functional neuroimaging from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He received his residency training in neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine. He has authored or co-authored numerous research articles in juried publications, has spoken on the topic of brain injury/disorder around the world, and has been involved in significant research projects for the US National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the National Football League (NFL). In 2010, he testified before the US Congress Judiciary Committee on his research into neuroimaging of retired NFL players.

CNS was founded in 2011 with the objective of advancing scientific research for neurovascular disease. With locations in Dearborn and Novi, MI, CNS hosts patients from around the world who seek an accurate diagnosis from advanced neuroimaging techniques, especially in the case of mild to moderate traumatic brain injury. For more information on CNS, reach Dr. Benson or John D. Russell, Executive Director, at (248) 277-3334.

NOTE TO EDITORS: CNS staff are available for interview on brain injuries and brain-related diseases. Topics may include concussions in sports, help for caregivers of loved ones suffering brain disease and concussions among combat veterans. Reach CNS at (248) 227-3334.

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