Icometrix, a biotechnology company focused on unique projects for diagnosing and treating multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, has designed new software for the measurement of brain lesions and brain volumes and their changes over time. MS, a chronic and neurological condition that affects about 2.5 million people throughout the world, is often first detected in patients at a young age, and the company expects to improve diagnosis and treatment options with the measurements.
Icometrix expects its new software to be able to help MS patients who need to keep track of their brain volume and brain lesions with their physicians, since the two characteristics are directly connected to patients’ physical and cognitive capacities, which are progressively affected as the disease progresses.
“Complementary to the evaluation by the radiologist, we perform calculations on MRI scans of the brain, which most people with MS already undergo regularly,” explained the co-founder and Chief Business Officer of icometrix, Ir. Wim Van Hecke. “We are the first to calculate brain volume with such accuracy that it can be used in clinical practice. It is great that we can introduce this in 2014, which was launched as the ‘Year of the Brain,’ by the European Brain Council.”
The brain volume measurements will be used for assessment within the major, multi-center project organized by the Belgian Study Group for Multiple Sclerosis, which has been working for 50 years since its foundation to enhance both research and treatment of MS in Belgium. The group gathers the most recognized Belgian MS neurologists as well as MS investigators. In the case of this study, 12 Belgian hospitals and MS centers and one other hospital in Luxembourg will participate in order to assess brain scans of more than 200 MS patients.
“Neurologists are very interested in reliable measures that can tell us something about the state of the brain of an MS patient,” stated the head of Neurology of the National MS Center in Melsbroek, Prof. Guy Nagels. “We believe this information can help us take better decisions for our patients,” Prof. Nagels stated. “The potential of these measures also goes beyond MS. In the future it might benefit patients with Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, or other neurological conditions.”
Wim Van Hecke emphasized the company’s excitement about the project, but noted that despite the high level of morale among the research team, the work will not end with this Belgium-based study, since he believes the measurements may be able to help patients and research worldwide. “Pilot studies are coming up and will start in the beginning of 2015 in The Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany and the US. In addition, we are very close to obtaining our CE and FDA approval, which means that our software is approved for clinical practice. And this is an important milestone for both icometrix and MS patients worldwide,” he added.