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Charcot project: The use of targeted nanoparticles in imaging of disease processes in the brains of people with progressive MS

Logo UHasselt Universiteit Hasselt - Knowledge in action

CHARCOT PROJECT: THE USE OF TARGETED NANOPARTICLES IN IMAGING OF DISEASE PROCESSES IN THE BRAINS OF PEOPLE WITH PROGRESSIVE MS

The Charcot Foundation provides 50% more operating resources for MS research: with an eye for research with practical results, Progressive MS, and faithful to its mission: fundamental research and innovation.

Prof. Niels Hellings(BIOMED), Prof. Anitha Ethirajan (IMO-IMOMEC) and Prof. Tanja Junkers (IMO-IMOMEC) were laureats of the Charcot Fund.

THE PROJECT

«Targeted nanoparticles will help us to monitor the pathological processes in the inflamed brain of patients with progressive MS and to accelerate the development of new treatments for these patients»
 
Today there are many treatments available for MS patients. These medicines can slow down the disease, but can not heal. If the patients enter the progressive phase, the treatments are no longer effective and the prognosis is uncertain. A better understanding of the mechanisms of progressive MS is needed to provide therapeutic solutions. In the context of this project, targeted nanoparticles are developed that can penetrate the inflamed brain during the progressive phase of the disease, so that the disease process can be visualized. Based on these observations, new therapeutic strategies may be developed for this patient group, for which efficient treatments are currently lacking.

While extensive research has been conducted into the disease mechanisms of MS, little is known about the exact etiology of this disease. The limited accessibility due to the presence of a protective layer, called the blood-brain barrier (BBB), is an obstacle to the study of the affected central nervous system (CNS) in the patients. This barrier acts as a neuroprotective shield by blocking foreign substances, including the imaging tracers that could help display and monitor the disease processes. In this project, functionalized tracers are being developed for research into the disease activity behind a closed BBB. If this succeeds, they will provide a better and more accurate understanding of progressive MS and enable easier evaluation of the treatments for this subpopulation of patients for which effective treatments are currently lacking.