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Development of perivascular space mapping toolset as a diagnostic aid for Alzheimer's disease

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R41AG073024-01
Agency Tracking Number: R41AG073024
Amount: $461,031.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: NIA
Solicitation Number: PAS19-317
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-09-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-08-31
Small Business Information
Pasadena, CA 91106-3164
United States
DUNS: 066932602
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (562) 475-8535
Business Contact
Phone: (562) 475-8535
Research Institution
LOS ANGELES, CA 90089-4304
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

Project Summary
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a devastating disease that affects millions of Americans and imposes a huge socio-
economic burden. AD-related cognitive decline is associated with the accumulation of Aβ (Amyloid beta) plaques
and neurofibrillary tangles of hyperphosphorylated tau protein, which are insufficiently cleared and degraded by
mechanisms such as the glia-lymphatic system or by transport across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Animal
research has shown that the glia-lymphatic pathway plays a substantial role in the net clearance of Aβ. In
addition, reduction of interstitial fluid efflux to the cerebrospinal fluid, or reduction of transport across the BBB,
could lessen the Aβ clearance. Human magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have also shown that the
integrity of the perivascular space (PVS), the pathway of glia-lymphatic system, is a marker of glia-lymphatic
brain health and its alteration is an important feature of AD pathology. PVS alteration in AD has been shown to
be independent of Amyloid uptake, implicating astroglial involvement specific to AD. Information about PVS
integrity could assist clinicians with making specific diagnosis about patients AD status and mechanism.
Therefore, a tool that allows non-invasive in-vivo mapping of PVS from clinical MRI is of high significance to aid
AD diagnosis and disease monitoring but does not yet exist. Current clinical routine to investigate PVS is a
relatively crude approach based on counting total number of observed PVS in MRI by neuro-radiologists, which
is non-specific, rater-dependent, and does not capture the distribution, whole extent of PVS change nor
volumetric features of the PVS. From a practical point of view, this technique is time consuming and laborious.
These limitations in part have prevented neurologists from adopting PVS quantification into their clinical routine.
We have developed computational techniques for mapping and quantifying PVS morphology from MRI, which
enables automated and accurate quantification of PVS across the brain without the need for time consuming
manual intervention. These techniques were developed on research data, which had slightly higher resolution
than clinical MRI. The goal of this proposal is to validate and optimize this technology on clinical MRI data, which
can be variable in quality and resolution. We also aim to develop a scanner- and hardware-agnostic deployable
analytical solution for automated PVS quantification, so that PVS mapping can be performed independent of the
radiology/imaging IT infrastructure. If successful, we will have a fully developed and validated backend software
that enables automated assessment of PVS and aids specific AD diagnosis and disease monitoring. Upon the
completion of this goal, our Phase II will focus on translation of the technology via implementation and testing of
the technology in collaboration with our strategic partners in clinic (Neuroradiology division of Keck School of
Medicine), industry (BioGen Inc.) and research (MarkVCID and NASA). Our ultimate goal will be to integrate
PVS measures into clinical diagnosis, disease monitoring and intervention efficacy assessment, as a specific
non-invasive and in-vivo imaging marker of AD pathology that can be automatically and reliably measured.Project Narrative
The proposed research is relevant to public health because identifying pathological alterations to the brain
perivascular spaces is expected to aid in Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis and disease monitoring. Traditionally,
assessment of perivascular spaces in clinic was limited to visual counting on MRI, which is time consuming and
inaccurate. The aim of this proposal is to develop and optimize reliable automated techniques to map
perivascular spaces in clinical setting.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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