Bioelectromagnetics

State of the art MRI compatible repeated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation - rTMS system and its Neuronavigation station (Magstim and ANT). This system Awarded has been awarded to our scientists by the SJHC foundation.

The Bioelectromagnetics (BEMS) group has an international reputation and expertise in research regarding the biological effects of static and time-varying magnetic field (MF) exposures and stimulations. This multidisciplinary team of scientists and students is working toward a common general objective: understanding the mechanisms by which a MF interacts with biological systems. Rather than focus only on what potential harmful effects there may be, they are working towards a new understanding and to develop a new technology. Their research program is divided into interdisciplinary projects, each targeting specific magnetic stimuli (static vs. time-varying, low vs. high flux density), and each bringing its contribution at a different level to address this general objective.

It is recognized that MFs have biological effects. Not all effects are ‘harmful’. This new knowledge aims to provide mechanistic information to allow discrimination between ‘harmful’ and ‘non-harmful’ effects, and to provide an era of therapeutic development and exploitation. For example, with their animal projects, team members have shown and replicated a consistent analgesic effect of earth MF shielding in mice. Interestingly, this effect seems to be cancelled by the reintroduction of weak time-varying MF within the shielding environment (illustrated in the figure), and this needs to be further investigated. The analgesic effect found in in snails and then mice motivated human investigation, and the group was able to demonstrate that a specific pulsed MF can modulate pain perception (and associated brain activation) in humans.

These achievements are not only contributing to the scientific base used by international agencies such as ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) to develop and support international guidelines regulating human exposure to electromagnetic fields, but are also proposing fundamental mechanisms of action possibly supporting the development of new therapeutic strategies to treat symptoms (i.e. chronic pain).

The group continues to strengthen and extend its fundamental research effort with two main perspectives: to continue to provide operational results to regulating agencies and to continue to develop new non-invasive therapeutic technologies to treat specific disorders.

New projects aiming to establish thresholds at which a neurophysiological response is systematically induced by a magnetic stimulus are currently central developments from the Human Threshold Research Group. Computational neuroscience is being promoted as a new promising window to understand the underlying electromagnetic interactions at the micro- and macroscopic scales. We propose that the predictions from mathematical modeling are systematically analysed in conjunction with experimental results to strengthen the hypothesized theoretical ground.

This scientific expertise from both the Bioelectromagnetics Group and the Human Threshold Research Group now allows the investigation of potential avenues for translational applications targeting symptom improvements in movement disorders such as in Parkinson’s disease. With this strategy, we have been successful with the St. Joseph's Foundation in the acquisition of a state of the art Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) system with Neuronavigation capability, and we have been successful in recruiting Dr. Julien Modolo as a Scientist at Lawson.

Investigators
Frank Prato, PhD, Imaging Director/Physicist Chief
Alex Thomas, PhD, BEMS Group Leader
Alexandre Legros, PhD, BEMS, Kinesiology
Julien Modolo, PhD, Computational Neuroscience

Collaborators
Lynn Keenliside, Medical Device Prototyping
Robert Stodilka, PhD, Nuclear Medicine Physics
Jean Théberge, PhD, Magnetic Resonance Physics
Terry Thompson, PhD, MR Spectroscopy