A new nanotechnology is in development which holds the promise of one day being able to treat trauma-induced brain aneurysms like those often seen in returning soldiers.
Last Thursday, Purdue University associate professor of nuclear engineering, Jean Paul Allain, spoke before Congress in the first annual Brain Mapping Day on this new “bioactive” coating for stents used to treat brain aneurysms. The Congressional presentation by the Society for Brain Mapping & Therapeutics (SBMT) discussed cutting-edge science, technology, medicine, and education and included a number of other presenters discussing ways nanotechnology can treat brain injuries and related diseases.
This new stent coating attracts stem cells to repair damaged blood vessels that cause brain aneurysms, which are blood vessel bulges or balloons. Brain aneurysms may leak or rupture, causing life-threatening brain bleeding.
Stents are artificial tubes inserted to support these damaged blood vessels and prevent further harm. Stem cells are used in this stent technology because they can be programmed to carry out a specific function, like the repair of blood vessels. Soldiers often suffer brain aneurysms due to the blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
This research is being carried out through the collaboration of Purdue University researchers, the U.S. Army, and neurosurgeons at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. JConline.com explains that “ollaborations also are planned with research scientists from two universities in Colombia.”
By developing this technology, researchers hope to find a less invasive and less complicated way to repair brain aneurysms. Current surgery can include “clipping aneurysms shut or implanting a metallic coil into the sac via a catheter,” the news source explains.
A co-leader of the project and lab director at the Birck Nanotechnology Center, Lisa Reece, explained that the chemistry and texture of these stent materials attract the cells needed to repair blood vessels. The coatings are “modified with beams of charged particles, called ions, to modify the stent coatings with a magnetic material.”
Allain said that ion beams are used to create the rough, life-like surface which promotes “cellular proliferation” and the repair of damaged vessels. He expects to have a prototype finished and ready to test by the end of the summer.
To carry out the research, Allain has received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Army. Although he remains optimistic, he cautions that this is a complicated solution for treating these brain injuries and will take several more years of research and testing to solve.