January 15, 2020

NIH grant to improve neonatal brain injury detection using photoacoustic imaging technology

Hypoxic-Ischemic brain Injury (HII) is a severe injury caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain at or near time of birth in preterm or low birth weight newborns. It is very important to recognize HII as soon as possible because early intervention improves outcomes. Preterm neonates experiencing HII are at risk for developing hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, cerebral palsy, periventricular leukomalacia, and hydrocephalus.

Kamran Avanaki, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering in Wayne State University’s College of Engineering, received a two-year, $725,000 R01 grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health for the development of a novel point-of-care 3D neonatal photoacoustic tomography (3D-nPAT) to improve the detection and measurement of hypoxic-ischemic in neonates without the need for sedation, radiation or radionuclides.

“3D-nPAT is safer and less costly than current, clinically-used neuroimaging methods,” said Avanaki. “It will allow for earlier treatment, which could circumvent neural complications and improve functional outcomes from cerebral palsy and cognitive impairments.”

This project is a collaboration between the Wayne State University Department of Biomedical Engineering, the neonatology program in Wayne State’s School of Medicine, the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan and the Department of Neonatology at Harvard Medical School. The team plans to fully test the 3D-nPAT technique for future potential clinical use.

The grant is the latest in a series of funding sources secured by Avanaki as his lab continues to break new ground in diagnostic imaging technology. He received an additional four-year, $1.5 million R01 grant last spring.

“The proposed 3D-nPAT instrument will provide neonatologists with an affordable, fast, portable and non-invasive functional imaging tool to map hypoxic-ischemic injuries to the neonatal brain that currently requires the use of multiple specialized systems,” said Avanaki. “With this grant and the earlier R01, we are planning to revolutionize neonatal brain imaging management.”

The grant, “3D Neonatal Photoacoustic Tomography (3D-NPAT) to Detect Hypoxic-Ischemic Brain Injury in Preterm Neonates,” was awarded through the National Institutes of Health’s BRAIN Initiative (Proof of Concept Development of Early Stage Next Generation Human Brain Imaging) from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. The grant number is EB028661.

About Wayne State University: Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit research.wayne.edu.


Julie O'Connor
Phone: 313-577-8845
Email: julie.oconnor@wayne.edu

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