Johns Hopkins wins DARPA grant for implantable ultrasound

By staff writers

October 13, 2020 -- A research team from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has won a $13.5 million grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop implantable ultrasound technology and other devices for imaging and treating patients with spinal cord injuries.

With the goal of targeting the disruption in blood flow that occurs alongside injury to the spinal cord, the group plans to implant electronic devices that use ultrasound pulse echoes and electrical stimulation to monitor and treat the tiny blood vessels and surrounding tissue at and around the site of spinal cord injury, according to the university. Imaging and stimulating the blood vessels, as well as controlling spinal fluid dynamics, could optimize the delivery of oxygen and nutrients and potentially prevent additional damage to the spinal cord, the researchers said.

This technique will require miniaturizing of ultrasound transducer technology, noted project co-leader Amir Manbachi, PhD. Dr. Nicholas Theodore is the other co-leader.

Although the primary mission of the five-year project is to develop devices that can be deployed to service members on military fronts, the researchers said they also hope to make the technologies available to benefit civilians who experience spinal cord injuries. Initially, the technologies will likely be used experimentally and clinically to treat acute spinal cord injuries, but the researchers also plan to develop more advanced versions designed for patients suffering from chronic spinal cord injury, according to Johns Hopkins.

Copyright © 2020

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