Dr. Scott Nagle receives grant to explore cystic fibrosis imaging through MRI

Posted on May 2013

Scott Nagle, M.D., Ph.D., and assistant professor in the Department of Radiology has recently been selected as an ICTR KL2 scholar for his project on Cystic Fibrosis Lung MRI.

The KL2 program provides salary and research support for chosen scholars for up to 4 years. This award will enable Dr. Nagle to evaluate the performance of some emerging methods of lung MRI imaging for cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that leads to death due to progressive lung disease at a media age of 38, and early detection of the effects of different drug treatments is very important in delaying the progression of the disease. Although CT (computed tomography) has been used to detect subtle differences in cystic fibrosis lung damage, it can only show the lung’s structure, not how it is functioning. In addition, CT scans are associated with a small amount of radiation, which can be more harmful in childhood, when it is most important to identify the early signs of the disease.

Dr. Nagle and his colleagues hope to show that MRI can better detect subtle differences in disease severity and response to treatment than CT—and do so without using x-ray radiation. To do this, Dr. Nagle and colleagues will perform lung MRI’s using a variety of methods, including an ultrashort echo time (UTE) developed at University of Wisconsin.

If these tests are better able to show the progression of cystic fibrosis in the lungs, Nagle believes treatments can be more easily and quickly selected for the patient and the effects if the treatments can be analyzed more closely.

Dr. Nagle finds his work both exciting and important. “This research… not only offers an opportunity to use both my clinical and basic science training to push the limits of what MRI can do, but it also has the potential to improve the lives of young patients who suffer from this disease through no fault of their own,” Nagle said.

“The Department of Radiology has been tremendously supportive of my research in [this] area,” Dr. Nagle also added. “There is a real need for more rigorous evaluation of MRI methods in clinical-translational research and this is a perfect setting in which to do [this].”