Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging for Characterizing Neuroinflammation of Spinal Cord in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

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Grant Year

ANF Development Grant

Grant Type

Suma Babu, MBBS, MPH


Instructor in Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital


Project Summary

Dr. Babu is using funding to learn more about changes in the spinal cord and to study the role of inflammation in the spinal cord of people living with ALS. In her research study, Dr. Babu will use state-of-the-art imaging techniques – Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) – to take high-resolution pictures of the spinal cord and test for inflammatory activity, all without surgery.

The PET dye to be used in this study is called PBR28, which highlights inflammation of the central nervous system. Dr. Babu’s research will build on preliminary spinal cord PBR28-PET data in ALS subjects and seeks to characterize the clinical and biological relevance of this molecular imaging outcome.

“This study will provide useful insight into the characteristics and patterns of spinal cord PBR28-PET uptake and will quantify spinal cord glial activation in vivo in ALS,” explained Dr. Babu. “The data generated by the study will inform the design of future longitudinal studies, and subsequently, clinical drug trials targeting neuroinflammation in ALS subjects with lower motor neuron dysfunction.”

  • 2-year grant totaling $100,000.
  • $1,500 travel award to attend the AANEM Annual Meeting and present the research following completion of the project.
  • Complimentary AANEM Annual Meeting registration in the year the research is presented.
  • Complimentary AANEM membership for duration of funding period.

"The AANEM Development Grant Award is a transformative early career opportunity for me, which will play a critical role in my career advancement in the field of ALS.”

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