“As a clinical tool, it’s a difficult modality to use because we’re not at a place where you can acquire fMRI data and push a button and get a result. There is a lot of intermediate stuff that has to occur. It could be—and will be—a very valuable end point for clinical trials in the future.”

Glenn Wylie, DPhil, director, Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center, Kessler Foundation, and colleagues have benefitted in their research from the advantages offered by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). It has allowed for researchers to validate the burden of symptoms being experienced by patients, which in turn can allow for physicians to tweak their interventions to address them.

In a conversation with NeurologyLive, Wylie discussed how these advantages may offer even more insight in clinical trials going forward. Although a few steps still need to be taken—he detailed that as of now, fMRI data is not available quickly enough—there is great potential in this fMRI to provide additional end points in studies of disease interventions.

He also shared insight into how real-time neuroimaging data could allowing for instant feedback for investigators when exploring the impacts certain interventions or tactics have on a patients’ ability to complete tasks, providing a way to determine what works best for them. This method, which is being looked into now at the Kessler Foundation, offers an exciting future application for clinicians studying neurologic conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS).