Ashfaq Adnan. Image Credit: UT Arlington
A researcher from the University of Texas at Arlington has received an Office of Naval Research (ONR) grant to study the mechanisms by which explosive events damage the brain.
Ashfaq Adnan, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has received a three-year grant of $ 944,845 to investigate the possible link between explosive trauma and cell and tissue damage in the brain. By using ultra-high-speed cameras to capture dynamic events in a simulated brain, he can examine the rapid acceleration and deceleration to investigate what happens during such events.
Previous research has shown that explosive trauma has great potential to create cavitation or bubbles and damage brain cells. Some studies have shown that they are present in realistic head models. Adnan wants to follow the entire process of bubble formation, development and collapse to see how this affects the brain cells.
“This study offers us a unique opportunity to see blistering in realistic scenarios and to connect with our previous research to understand how traumatic brain injury can be prevented,” said Adnan. “Once we understand the pathways that lead to brain injury, we will have more opportunities to study damage mechanisms and apply our findings to prevention and treatment.
“I would like to thank the ONR and Timothy Bentley, Program Manager and Vice President of the Force Health Protection Program, for supporting our research,” said Adnan.
He will also examine the broader configurations of the brain specifically related to glial cells, which are located next to neuronal cells and contain elements necessary for neuronal cells to function. Adnan suspects that glial cells act as a protective shield against trauma to neuronal cells.
“Dr. Adnan’s work continues to evolve and provide critical insight into the mechanisms underlying traumatic brain injury,” said Erian Armanios, chairman of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “His leadership and professional judgment have contributed greatly to the collective knowledge in this area and I look forward to the groundbreaking results of this milestone.”
Adnan bought the high-speed cameras for the study with a grant from Defense University’s research instrumentation program. He has two other ONR grants and a $ 1.98 million sub-award from the National Institutes of Health to support his research into explosive traumatic brain injury. His previous research has found that under certain circumstances, the mechanical forces of explosive events can damage the perineuronal network adjacent to neurons, which in turn could damage the neurons themselves.
He and his team simulated a cavitation collapse induced by shock waves in the perineuronal network, a special extracellular matrix that stabilizes synapses in the brain. The team focused on the damage in hyaluronan, the main structural component of the mesh, and showed that the localized supersonic forces created by an asymmetrical bladder collapse can break it.
Brain damage can result from explosion-induced cavitation, which is provided by the University of Texas at Arlington
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