Wayne State researchers receive second NIH grant to improve neonatal brain injury detection using photoacoustic imaging technology

Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury (HII) is caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain at or near time of birth in preterm, or in newborns at low birth weight. Preterm neonates experiencing HII are at risk for developing neurological disorders that include hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, cerebral palsy, periventricular leukomalacia and hydrocephalus. Early recognition and intervention, however, greatly improves outcomes.

Kamran Avanaki, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Wayne State University, received a two-year, $725,000 R01 grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) 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 HII in neonates without the need for sedation, radiation or radionuclides.

Kamran Avanaki
Kamran Avanaki

“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, non-invasive and vascular functional imaging tool to map hypoxic-ischemic injuries to the neonatal brain that currently require the use of multiple specialized systems,” said Avanaki. “With this grant and the earlier R01, we are planning to revolutionize neonatal brain imaging management.”

This grant was issued through the National Institutes of Health’s BRAIN Initiative (Proof of Concept Development of Early Stage Next Generation Human Brain Imaging). The grant number is EB028661.


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