Credentials:PhD, FCCPM, ABMP
- Imaging Program Leader and Assistant Scientific Director,
Lawson Health Research Institute
- Professor, Departments of Medical Imaging, Medical Biophysics and Physics, University of Western Ontario
- Chief Medical Physicist, St. Joseph's Health Care and London Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Frank S. Prato's (PhD, FCCPM, ABMP) Medical Biophysics Program has made two major discoveries. He has discovered how Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can be used to "see" the extent of permanent heart muscle damage caused by a heart attack, better than any other imaging method. Also, he has discovered that exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELFMF) of frequency less than 1000 Hz can affect opioid related behaviours and induce analgesia in humans. Dr. Prato will now exploit these discoveries to develop image-guided therapies to treat heart disease and to treat pain. Imaging methods will change the approach of medical treatment from one of, "this treatment works in 60 percent of patients" to "using imaging we will know if this treatment will work". Present treatment options for heart failure are inadequate as they now depend on heart transplantation and the need for immune suppression. The new field of regenerative medicine suggests that, if stem cells are transplanted into the damaged heart, then new functioning heart tissue will replace the dead tissue. In the future, imaging methods will be needed to determine if these transplanted cells are dividing to become new heart muscle cells and if this new heart tissue is becoming functional. Current treatment for pain is inadequate as some 50 percent of Canadians in debilitating pain seek alternative medicine therapy primarily because of the serious side effects often produced by drug therapy. Dr. Prato's laboratory has shown that pulsed ELFMF can be as effective in pain relief as a moderate dose of morphine but without the unwanted side effects. Pain centers in the brain will be imaged as magnetic fields are applied. The activation and deactivation of these brain areas will allow optimization of pain therapy for each patient. Dr. Prato's laboratory will develop the MRI and Positron Emission Tomography methodology that will help realize these dreams.