Memorial Healthcare first to use NfL testing on patients with neurological conditions

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OWOSSO (WJRT) (10/09/19) -- Memorial Healthcare in Owosso is continuing to change the landscape of patient care and services in Mid-Michigan.

The hospital is the first in the country to use potentially life changing technology for patients with multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.

The name of the machine is Myles and it is the newest addition to Memorial Healthcare's Institute for Neurosciences and Multiple Sclerosis.

Inside it, could hold the answers to predicting the progression of neurological conditions and how well current treatments are working for patients.

"When there's damage to the brain or spinal cord, there is microscopic leakage of certain proteins that are only found in that compartment of the body," said Dr. Rany Aburashed, chief of neurology.

Rany said what Myles does is analyze what's called Neuro-filament Light proteins, or NfL for short.

"What we're looking at with neuro-filament light really conceptually is, can we measure proteins in the blood and draw information that would give us data on what's happening in the brain and spinal cord," he said.

Think of NfL as a snapshot or a marker of a patient's current neurological condition.

Rany said previous testing of NfL proteins was limited to spinal fluid only. But now with the newer technology, doctors are able to take a deeper look at the underlying structural damage within the proteins.

"That marker, we hope is an indicator of how much inflammation, how much damage is happening to someone in real time. From there, we kind of draw out, can we draw conclusions based on our treatments. Are we adequately treating patients? Are we stopping the disease in its tracks," he said.

Samantha Pelt is a patient of Rany and has MS. Twice a year, she comes in for a checkup and injection that helps control her disease. Fortunately for her, she is not physically limited in any way.

"I'm very hopeful and confident that either there will soon be a cure, or that at least in my case right now, it's put at a halt," Pelt said.

She was able to participate in the NfL testing at Memorial Healthcare.

"I'm really excited to be a part of it. When they ask me if I was willing to volunteer to do it, I was all for it because anything to help, I'll do anything," she said.

The testing itself is a big step forward in helping patients with neurological conditions.

"At this stage, we are not making treatment decisions based on the marker because you're talking about finding a new species of science, so our first job is to characterize that species and how it behaves in the real world very well," Rany said.

It's just the beginning of some of the many new and exciting things happening at Memorial Healthcare.

"For us to have this at Memorial, I think makes our job, drives our passion, it drives what our goals are which is to really, to know that any patient that comes through here has access to the highest level of technology and is really being looked at and scrutinized in the most innovative way there is," Rany added.