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Dr Elena H Martinez-Lapiscina


Dr. Elena H Martinez-Lapiscina earned her MD in the University of Navarra, Spain in 2006. She received special mention from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science at the time of graduation for unique promise and potential. She completed her neurology training at the Complejo Hospitalario de Navarra, Spain in 2012 and completed her PhD in the Epidemiology department of the University of Navarra in 2013. During this time, she won a full-fellowship for completing her training in neurology in the Hospital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, France and another full-fellowship for completing her training in clinical research in Harvard University, US.

On completion of her neurology training, she moved to Barcelona and became a Rio Hortega research fellow in the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona - IDIBAPS, studding the pathogenesis and development of new therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) by using imaging modalities. During this time, her work has contributed to the success of these projects and has advanced the application of these imaging modalities in the clinic.

She is currently a clinician and junior investigator of the neuro-immunology and MS research group in the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona - IDIBAPS. Her specific interests focus on furthering the understanding of neurodegeneration in MS and developing markers of prognosis and therapy response in this disorder thought the multimodal evaluation of the damage of the visual system in patients with MS.

Retinal molecular imaging in MS by Raman Spectroscopy to quantify inflammatory and neurodegenerative activity in MS

Conventional Monitoring of the evolution of MS has to-date been based exclusively on clinical outcomes such as relapse rate and disability scales. An approach that has limited success in preventing long-term disability; the main therapeutic priority in MS.

Inflammation and demyelination are the main contributors to permanent and progressive neuroaxonal injury in MS, together with the transmission of neurodegenerative damage by transsynaptic degeneration. The interplay of these mechanisms and the molecular pathways involved in MS are not well understood, largely because dynamic molecular assessment of tissue undergoing injury has not been possible in living human subjects

The human eye offers an accessible site to study neurodegeneration. Earlier studies in our laboratory have demonstrated the feasibility of using Raman Spectroscopy (RS) for detecting molecular inflammatory and neurodegenerative changes in the retina in vitro. Moreover, in a pilot study patients with MS and healthy controls, we found that RS was able to identify molecular signatures for MS in eyes of MS patients with and without previous optic neuritis compared with healthy eyes.

Going forward, our study will use ophthalmological and neurological examinations (MRI, OCT Retinal Raman spectra characterization) to quantify change in the concentration of molecules/markers associated with inflammatory and neurodegenerative injury in patients with RRMS, SPMS and healthy controls. Evaluation of these changes over the disease duration will describe the dynamics and interplay of inflammation and neurodegeneration in MS and allow the development of biomarkers to monitor disease progression and response to therapy. 

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