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UT Arlington Bioengineer Leads $1 Million Anti-Stroke Project

June 12, 2007

A four-year study by researchers in three collaborative institutions will lead to improved therapies for anyone who has had or may have a stroke. The researchers are developing methods to construct accurate, non-invasive and complex 3-dimensional (3-D) images as a dynamic monitoring means to investigate microcirculatory dysfunction during ischemic stroke.

University of Texas at Arlington Bioengineering Professor Hanli Liu is leading a team comprised of Drs. Jianzhong Su and Hua Shan of UT Arlington’s Department of Mathematics, Professor of Mathematics Michael Klibanov of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Drs. James Simpkins and Shaohua Yang of the Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) in Fort Worth. Their project, titled “Computational Optical Tomography for Anti-stroke Therapy,” is being funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The team has collaborated for the past two-and-a-half years in designing the project and collecting the feasibility evidence in order to demonstrate that the proposed development will enhance the understanding of the dynamics, mechanisms and heterogeneity of ischemic stroke.

There are two main types of strokes – ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke, which accounts for approximately 80% of all strokes, occurs when a blood clot obstructs a vessel, cutting off the flow of oxygenated blood to a section or sections of the brain or other organs. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures, allowing blood to flow into surrounding tissue, compressing nearby vessels and depriving surrounding tissue of oxygen.

The team’s efforts will be conducted in two phases, each lasting approximately two years. In phase one, Dr. Liu will design and implement a near-infrared (NIR) imaging system suitable for the dynamic imaging of cerebral concentrations of oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO) and total hemoglobin (HbT), while Drs. Su, Shan, and Klibanov will develop a fast, globally convergent reconstruction (GCR) algorithm for the 3-D images of vascular contents and oxygenation based on the NIR measurements.

In phase two, using the newly developed NIR imager and advanced image reconstruction algorithm, Dr. Liu will work with Drs. Simpkins and Yang from UNTHSC to conduct in vivo studies using animal models to determine the effect of anti-stroke drugs on microvasculature dysfunction in the cerebral ischemia.

Following these studies, the team will implement an integrated, user-friendly platform/ environment for users in academic and medical communities for the sharing of both their 3-D GCR algorithm for NIR tomographic imaging and their data-intensive NIR spectroscopic readings.

“This is truly a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional research development, and my collaborators and I are highly encouraged by the support,” said an enthusiastic Dr. Liu. “The NIH recognizes that we are addressing important healthcare issues and procedures. Moreover, the imaging techniques we develop through this anti-stroke project can be applied to more general investigations/testing for new therapeutic drugs for other medical conditions, such as forms of cancer or neurological disorders.”