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IIT Mandi invents new technique to detect abnormal brain characteristics associated with Ischemic stroke

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The method helps in locating and classifying damaged sites in the brain, brought about, or leading to neurological diseases

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi have invented a method to simultaneously study the variations in nerve functions and brain blood flow associated with brain disorders such as Ischemic stroke. The method helps in locating and classifying damaged sites (lesions) in the brain, brought about, or leading to neurological diseases.

Results of the study led by Dr Shubhajit Roy Chowdhury, Associate Professor, School of Computing and Electrical Engineering, IIT Mandi, has been published in IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine and the team has been recently granted a US patent for the invention.

Dr Roy Chowdhury has collaborated with Dr Abhijit Das, a neurologist from the Institute of Neurosciences, Kolkata, and Dr Anirban Dutta, an assistant professor in Restorative Neurorehabilitation from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University at Buffalo, USA.

The IIT Mandi team’s invention is based on the fact that intricate interactions between nerve cells (neurons) and blood vessels (vasculature), called the NeuroVascular Coupling, (NVC) regulates blood flow in the brain.

Diseases such as Ischemic stroke adversely affect the NVC. NeuroVascular Uncoupling results in such cases, wherein the nerve impulses do not trigger the required blood flow. Timely detection of NVC is critical for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of such diseases.

“Our method uses a multi-modal brain stimulation system to differentially stimulate different components of the neurovascular unit (NVU) and observes the resultant electrical nerve signals by EEG (electroencephalography) and blood flow by near Infrared spectroscopy (NIRS),” explained Dr Chowdhury.

In simpler terms, a benign electrical current is given to the brain through electrodes and the responses of the brain in terms of nerve action and blood flow are simultaneously measured by Electroencephalography (EEG) and Near-infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS). While EEG and NIRS are already used independently, the prototype developed by IIT Mandi innovators combines them into a single point-of-care unit to get a more accurate picture of the NVC. The data thus obtained is fed into mathematical models to detect problems in NVC, which can point to neurological diseases. In addition to detecting these abnormalities, this method can pinpoint the location at which the uncoupling exists, thereby providing a better handle on the problem area.

“The simultaneous assessment of nerve function and brain blood circulation would allow urgent treatment decisions to be made quickly in cases of stroke and hypertension,” said the lead researcher. The developed device can also help in identifying the progress of diseases such as Parkinson’s and can in fact predict occurrence of these diseases even before the presentation of symptoms.

Surveys have shown that nearly 30 million people in India suffer from neurological disorders including epilepsy, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injuries and neuroinfections. Neurosurgeons and hospitals in India have indeed made significant advancements in neurosurgical diagnosis and treatment. The invention by the IIT Mandi team takes diagnosis of neurological problems one step further and will help in better detection and treatment of these diseases.

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