The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has awarded a $5 million grant to The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and the University of Cincinnati to further develop a "lab-on-a-chip" device used for monitoring patients suffering from severe brain injury.
Management of severe brain trauma calls for cutting-edge tools to monitor patients during the critical first few hours and days after an injury. Working through the Feinstein Institute, neurosurgeons at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System have been collaborating with engineers and neurosurgical colleagues at the University of Cincinnati to design a device that would provide continuous monitoring of key biochemical and physiological parameters that are critically important in deciding how to treat severely injured patients.
Tools that measure intracranial pressure have been available for well over 25 years, but there are many other changes going on inside the brain that are difficult to monitor. The device under development – a "lab-on-a-chip" – is simple, accurate and designed to measure various other parameters, in addition to intracranial pressure.
"The condition of the brain can change from second to second, and the more information the neurocritical care team has, the better it can do in helping the patient to recover," says Raj K. Narayan, M.D., chairman of neurosurgery at North Shore University Hospital and LIJ Medical Center.
Dr. Narayan and his colleagues will share the $5 million DOD grant with the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Narayan began the work on the device during his tenure as chair of neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and The Mayfield Clinic. He recently recruited Chunyan Li, from University of Cincinnati's department of computer science and engineering to North Shore-LIJ to help oversee the project.
The tool in development monitors intracranial pressure, brain temperature, brain tissue oxygen levels, glucose, lactate and potentially a range of many other biochemical markers. Having this information on a single chip can help medical personnel manage the injured brain in a much more specific way, according to North Shore-LIJ. The grant will enable the team to complete engineering on the device and test it in laboratory models to ensure that it is stable and accurate.
The DOD is interested in the potential of such a device for wounded soldiers in the theater. "When soldiers are injured in battle there is a great need for this kind of monitoring and it would be critically important during transport," Dr. Narayan says. "This lab-on-a-chip has the potential to help doctors identify secondary insults and allow for early life-saving intervention. This will help our injured soldiers, but will also help the thousands of civilians that suffer severe brain injury each year."