Quantitative in vivo Methods to Estimate the Conduction Time of Nerve Impulses in the Brain

The axon diameter distribution (ADD) is an important anatomical feature of nerve fascicles both in normal and abnormal development. Axon diameter directly affects nerve function. It is well known that in myelinated axons, the conduction velocity is directly proportional to axon diameter. Moreover, it is hypothesized that in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) large diameter axons are damaged selectively, while in autism, small-diameter axons are over-expressed. Despite its importance, the ADD within nerve fascicles has not been measurable in-vivo, and currently can only be assessed by invasive histological means. Previously, the NICHD inventors developed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods to measure the ADD within nerve fascicles (e.g., by AxCaliber MRI). This invention extends from the inventor's prior work to AxCaliber MRI along with the non-invasive measurement of the arc-length of a nerve pathway (e.g., using DTI tractography), to estimate the mean conduction time of nerve impulses along that pathway, as well as other statistical moments of the conduction time distribution. This method could be used to diagnose abnormalities in nerve conduction in brain regions and providing a neuroanatomical basis for many cognitive and behavior disorders.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • Used to diagnose abnormalities in nerve conduction in brain regions.
  • Provides a neuroanatomical basis for many cognitive and behavior disorders.
  • A basic tool in neuroscience research to explore the dynamic functioning of the brain.
  • Diagnose a number of cognitive and behavioral abnormalities, disease and disorders [currently only assessed using psychological or psychiatric testing].
  • A new quantitative imaging biomarker.
  • Used to understand and follow brain changes during normal aging and in Alzheimer's disease.
  • Used to explain motor deficits in ALS disease.
  • Provides way of classifying and understanding various neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions according to conduction delays.

Development Stage:
  • Prototype
  • Clinical
  • In vivo data available (animal)
  • In vivo data available (human)

Related Invention(s):


Peter Basser (NICHD)  ➽ more inventions...

Intellectual Property:
US Application No. 61/535,851
PCT Application No. PCT/US2012/055458
US Application No. 14/345,219

Assaf Y, et al. PMID 18506799
Barazany D, et al. PMID 19403788

Collaboration Opportunity:

The NICHD is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate or commercialize methods to estimate conduction time of nerve impulses in brain. For collaboration opportunities, please contact Charlotte McGuinness at mcguinnc@mail.nih.gov.

Licensing Contact:
Surekha Vathyam, Ph.D.
Email: vathyams@mail.nih.gov
Phone: 240-276-6865

OTT Reference No: E-226-2010/0
Updated: Sep 10, 2015