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Neurologists 'ecstatic' about new technology for the early detection of MS and brain tumours



















Image source: NEURORADIOLOGYCASES

Australian scientists claim to have made a significant breakthrough in the treatment and detection of multiple sclerosis.

New software has been shown to assist doctors in spotting lesions on the brain.

The technology has already detected new brain lesions in 25 per cent of patients who had been classified as stable.

If successful, doctors say it could lead to a much earlier detection of brain tumours and a myriad of other brain diseases.

David Taylor reports.

DAVID TAYLOR: There's no cure for multiple-sclerosis.

James Zahra has been suffering from the disease for seven years.

JAMES ZAHRA: I woke up one morning, I'd lost the use of the left side of my face and my eye sight in my left eye had diminished by about 90 per cent.

Took obviously a few test and scans and so on and so forth but by about a week later we had finally determined what the problem was and here we are now, it was MS.

DAVID TAYLOR: In your early 20s that must have been quite scary to wake up to that.

JAMES ZAHRA: It wasn't as much of a shock as you'd think just hence the reason I was young and didn't really know anything about it. But people around me were a lot more scared than I was.

DAVID TAYLOR: James has been on a number of different drugs over the years, describing much of his treatment as trial and error.

He just completed his latest round of intravenous drug therapy and says he won't need to go back for any more treatment for another six months.

Finding the right treatment from MS patients is crucial.

Part of the process involves doctors noticing tiny new lesions in the brain.

It requires a painstaking look through hundreds of scans, comparing old images with new images looking for changes.

FRANK GAILLARD: It's similar to having a couple of Dalmatians running around and trying to spot whether one of them has an extra dot or not.

DAVID TAYLOR: Dr Frank Gaillard is a director of research at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

He says scientists at the hospital have developed an Australian-first software that can detect minute changes in the brain in patients with MS.

He says neurologists are "ecstatic" about the new technology.

FRANK GAILLARD: So instead of having to look at 200 lesions and identify one that might be new, you are, your attention is drawn to the one that wasn't present before.

Now because there are changes in the physiology and position and how the scan's obtained there are also areas that show up that aren't real so the job of the radiologist, instead of being one trying to identify the lesions, is one of once your attention is drawn to an area that is potentially new to use our normal clinical skills in assessing whether that lesion is actually a demyelinating lesion or caused by something else.

DAVID TAYLOR: So you're effectively, rather than looking for a needle in a hay stack, you're looking for a rather large twig in a hay stack.

FRANK GAILLARD: Much more like a tree-trunk, yeah.

DAVID TAYLOR: Importantly the new technology can tell doctors whether a treatment is working or not long before symptoms associated with an inappropriate drug start to appear.

MS sufferer James Zahra again:

JAMES ZAHRA: If the machine can do what they claim it does then fortunately for us they can treat us appropriately.

If something is early detected they can jump on it faster before it does affect us.

I mean, you know, any disease, to know what's going to happen before it actually happens gives us all a head start.

DAVID TAYLOR: Indeed doctors say the software also presents an opportunity to spot brain tumours that might otherwise go undetected.

The technology is now being used in live scans to provide information to neurologists on the treatment of their patients.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: David Taylor reporting.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by ABC
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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