Our research studies include various components. The tests and assessments below provide us with information needed to study a specific area of interest. Participants may be invited to complete all or some of the following components:

Clinic Questionnaires

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Questionnaires consist of a brief series of questions regarding the health of patients, families, and volunteers which will be used to characterize the clinical features and demographics of children with neuroinflammatory disorders.

Blood Samples and Mouth Swabs

Blood Samples

Patients and health volunteers may be asked to proved a small sample of blood. Blood samples collected will be analyzed to identify both triggers and initial targets of neuroinflammation and compare it to the blood of individuals who do not experience neuroinflammation. We know that people with neuroinflammation have immune cells that have decided to attack the white matter in the brain and spinal cord. We hope that by studying immune cells over time, we can learn what causes immune cells to behave differently.

We think that certain viruses may be important in triggering neuroinflammation. Some of the blood collected will be used to determine whether children with neuroinflammation have been exposed to common childhood viruses. Blood samples collected from healthy research volunteers provide a means of comparison.

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Mouth Swabs

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a virus of the herpes family, is one the most common viruses infecting more than 95 per cent of healthy adults worldwide. Previous studies have shown that children with MS are more likely than healthy children of the same age to have been infected with this virus.To learn more about the potential role of infection with EBV in the development of MS in children, patients and healthy research volunteers are asked to provide a mouth swab when a blood sample is collected.

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Diagnostic Imaging

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI scans provide a window into the brain or spine. The photographs obtained by MRI are very detailed and help determine whether demyelination has occurred and where the demyelinating lesions are located in the brain and spine.

 

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) 

MEG scans provide us with information about the activity in your brain while you are performing certain tasks.

Cognitive Assessment

To understand how neuroinflammatory disorders affect learning and cognition, we are carefully assessing cognitive abilities such as memory, language and reasoning skills. A cognitive assessment involves completing paper-and-pencil or digital tasks that measure thinking abilities like memory, problem-solving and language.

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Eye Examination and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

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Eye Tests
Participants complete an eye examination to check vision level. These tests measure visual acuity, low contrast vision, and colour vision. The visual field test measures side vision and is a straightforward, painless test. Sitting at a machine with a chin rest, the patient or healthy research volunteer is asked to press a button every time a light is flashed. It is important to keep the head still.

 

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

The OCT is a painless and non-invasive imaging technique that takes a detailed picture of the retina, located at the back of the eye. The test includes sitting at a special machine with a chin rest. A special camera takes a picture of the retina and the image is transmitted to a computer for an Ophthalmologist to evaluate.

Genetic Studies

Genes, also known as DNA, are in each cell of our body, including our brain and immune cells. They tell each cell what to do, and how to function. In some cases, they are part of the reason why some people are more likely have a certain disease, and why others aren’t. We believe that there may be differences in the genes stored in the brain cells and immune cells in people with neuroinflammatory disorders.

We would like to obtain a DNA sample from patients and healthy research participants. By collecting a small sample of blood, DNA will be examined for possible genetic patterns across children with neuroinflammatory disorders and healthy research volunteers. With patients, we may also obtain DNA from families (parents and siblings) of children who experience a second demyelinating event as there may be a stronger genetic component in these children.

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Wearable Devices

Participants may also be asked to wear certain devices which track one’s activity levels and sleep habits over a period of time. These devices include accelerometers, fitbits and actiwatches.