Non-Invasive In Vivo MR Method to Image Salient Features of Nerves

The invention consists of a novel diffusion MRI experiment and modeling framework that describes white matter in the central nervous system (CNS) and nerves in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) as composite media having intra- and extra axonal spaces with different water diffusion characteristics. Specifically, fascicles in the nervous system are modeled as having a hindered extracellular region and a restricted intracellular or intra-axonal region. Diffusion of water in these two distinct compartments contribute to the total measured diffusion MRI signal. This method provides a voxel-by-voxel measurement of the intra- and extra- axonal volume fractions, and an estimate of the mean axon diameter. This technology is also incorporated in NIH's AxCaliber MRI technology, which extends it, treating fascicles as a bundle of impermeable cylinders having a distribution of internal diameters.

The significance of this invention is that it provides measurements of new and useful microanatomical features of white matter (and gray matter) that are closely related to the function of the nervous system -- particularly the speed that information travels along axons -- critically important in medicine and the neurosciences. Previously, the data provided by this non-invasive MR imaging method were only available using invasive and laborious histological means requiring tissue biopsy.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • clinical MRI
  • small animal or pre-clinical MRI
  • non-invasive, painless, in vivo measurement of microanatomical features of nerves and muscles
  • no contrast agents required
  • modest data requirements allow for scans to be performed in a clinically feasible time-frame

Development Stage:
  • Early-stage
  • In vitro data available
  • In vivo data available (animal)
  • In vivo data available (human)
  • In situ data available
  • Prototype

Related Invention(s):


Peter Basser (NICHD)  ➽ more inventions...

Yaniv Assaf

Intellectual Property:
U.S. Pat: 8,380,280 issued 2013-02-19

Assaf Y, et al. A New Modeling and Experimental Framework to Characterize Hindered and Restricted Water Diffusion in Brain White Matter. In Proc. Intl. Soc. Mag. Reson. Med. 2004;11:251. PDF
Assaf Y, Basser PJ. Combining DT and q-space MRI: a new model of white matter in the brain. In Proc. Intl. Soc. Mag. Reson. Med. 2003;11:588. PDF
Assaf Y, Basser PJ. PMID 15979342
Assaf Y, et al. PMID 15508168

Collaboration Opportunity:

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate or commercialize novel MRI methods to probe tissue structure and organization, particularly for neuroimaging applications. For collaboration opportunities, please contact Alan E. Hubbs at or 240-276-5532.

Licensing Contact:
Charlotte McGuinness, Ph.D., J.D.
Phone: 240-276-5530

OTT Reference No: E-079-2003-1
Updated: Sep 15, 2015