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New brain research technology centre opens to study autism

Elekta : 12 October, 2007  (New Product)
The Oxford Neurodevelopmental Magnetoencephalography (MEG) Centre has been opened at the University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, in Oxford, United Kingdom by HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal.
The Centre, which features the new Elekta Neuromag technology for the investigation of autism, is the world's first purpose built facility specialising in the study and research of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

The new Centre utilises state of the art MEG technology from Elekta to provide a resource for a wide community of clinicians and neuroscientists studying both normal and abnormal brain development and function.

With its Elekta Neuromag MEG system, the Centre will enable the non-invasive registering of nerve cell activity in the brain in real time. The sensitive Elekta MEG technology will allow doctors and researchers to measure the intensity of extremely weak magnetic fields generated by electrical activity in the brain. This diagnostic tool increases the ability to understand and to improve treatment of functional disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

“The brain is the most complex structure in the human body”, explained professor Anthony Bailey at The University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry. “In the investigation and treatment of brain disorders, whether it is tumours, neurodegenerative diseases or functional disorders, it is of utmost importance to gather as much information as possible about the individual patient’s brain.”

'Until now, we have not had a good enough tool to combine information about temporal and spatial localisation of relevant functional centres in the brain. Using MEG technology, we can determine the function of different parts of the brain for each specific patient in the current stage of his or her development. This information can give us an important piece of the puzzle for diagnosing and plan treatment for patients with brain disorders or related diseases,' said Prof Bailey.

“MEG technology is considered as one of the most exciting developments in neuroscience today. This new MEG centre is step further in that progress”, said David Miles at Elekta, managing director, Business Unit UK.

Elekta Neuromag with a 306 MEG-channel sensor array offers a higher density than any other system on the market. With better overall coverage of the brain, the system is able to register a greater degree of brain activity then other MEG systems.

Elekta is currently also focusing on research programmes for non-invasively locating epileptogenic zones, since MEG has proven useful for locating these zones in relation to other functionally important areas of the brain. The MEG technology will be used to localise functional targets prior to non-invasive Radiosurgery as well as conventional neurosurgery, which is an increasingly common alternative for patients with drug-resistant focal epilepsy.

Ongoing research and development is also taking place in other areas which include cerebrovascular disease and mild brain trauma; psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression; learning disorders, such as dyslexia; as well as normal cognitive functions underlying memory and language.
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