Dr. Darin T. Okuda, a neuroimmunologist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, just developed a method that can accurately identify multiple sclerosis lesions in the brain.
Multiple Sclerosis Brain Lesion
“Prior to the release of our work, we were describing multiple sclerosis lesions incorrectly,” Okuda told TechCrunch.
Previously, MS lesions identified by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were defined by a set of vague, and sometimes inaccurate characteristics including size thresholds and shape descriptions. Okuda and colleagues used MakerBot 3D printers to replicate over a thousand brain lesions, evaluated their shapes and surface features, then refined his method until the 3D models of isolated lesions he selected actually resembled the real thing. His work represents the first scientific effort to study brain lesions resulting from MS and other causes in actual 3D form.
Not only was Dr. Okuda able to define unique shapes and surface characteristics associated with MS, they were also able to improve upon conventional approaches for studying lesions in actual form.
Instead of settling for the blocky, tetris looking models that conventional techniques produced, 3D printing each iteration of selected lesions from MRI studies in-house enabled Dr. Okuda to rapidly redefine the way clinicians see MS lesions and and distinguish them from other white matter lesions resulting from migraine headaches, high blood pressure, and normal aging.
In his role as the Director of NeuroInnovation, Dr. Okuda is obsessed with using technology to advance diagnosis and treatment in his field.
He elaborates that “being able to feel and see 3D printed lesions in your hand is very different from looking at them on a screen, even if you’re looking at a 3D model. This is as important for artificial intelligence researchers and healthcare providers as it is for patients – holding an accurate representation of a MS brain lesion both before and after treatment has unmatched explanatory power.”