New clinical study demonstrates that the microwave helmet “Strokefinder” can be used for a rapid detection of intracranial bleeding in traumatic brain injuries
A recently published scientific paper shows that health care professionals get vital information and can quickly decide on appropriate treatment if patients are examined using a microwave helmet. The study demonstrates a new health care application for microwave measurements. Previously, microwave measurements have been used to distinguish stroke caused by bleeding in the brain from stroke caused by cloth. The new study shows that the technology also applies to patients affected by traumatic brain injury, which is the most common cause of death and disability among young people. This type of injuries are often caused by traffic accidents, assaults or falls. An estimated 10 million people are affected annually by traumatic brain injuries.
– Microwave technology has the potential to revolutionize medical diagnostics by enabling faster, more flexible and more cost-effective care, says Mikael Persson, professor of biomedical engineering at MedTech West and Chalmers University of Technology. In many parts of the world microwave measurements systems can become a complement to CT scans and other imaging systems, which are often missing or have long waiting lists.”
– It is challenging to develop a new clinical methodology, from early tests to a device for clinical use in a hyperacute clinical environment where routine care of patients cannot be delayed. It requires a close collaboration between technical and medical professionals which has been supported by MedTech West, a western Sweden based organization for med-tech research & development driven by clinical need, says Mikael Elam, professor of clinical neurophysiology at MedTech West, the Sahlgrenska Academy and the Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
Facts about microwave measurements
A microwave helmet is placed on the patient’s head and the brain tissue is examined with the aid of microwave radiation. The system consists of three parts: a helmet-like antenna system that is put on the patient’s head, a microwave unit and a computer that is used to control the equipment, data acquisition and signal processing. Individual antennas in system transmit, in sequence, a weak microwave signals through the brain, while the other receiving antennas measure the reflected signals. Distinct structures and substances in the brain affect the microwave scattering and reflections in different ways and the received signals provides a complex pattern, as interpreted by using advanced algorithms.
Australian news article describes the stroke diagnosis helmet “Strokefinder”, which is under development and clinically tested in research teams at MedTech West, Sahlgrenska Academy, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Signals and Systems at Chalmers University of Technology, as “game changing”. People suspected of having a stroke could soon be accurately diagnosed and prepped for treatment by paramedics, with a new device being trialled by Australian researchers, says the news.
From the left in the photo: Mikael Persson, Chalmers University of Technology, Mikael Elam, Sahlgrenska Academy, and Jan-Erik Karlsson, Sahlgrenska University Hospital with the stroke helmet at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in 2014. Photographer: Henrik MindedalShare this:
Västsvenska forskare är framstående inom flera områden som är viktiga för patienter, exempelvis teknik som i framtiden kan ge snabbare och träffsäkrare diagnos vid bland annat bröstcancer och stroke, bättre hörapparater och individanpassade implantat. Teknikerna som ligger bakom dessa kallas för mikrovågssystem, benförankrade hörapparater, 3D-printing och bildanalys.
För att uppmärksamma European MedTech Week arrangerar Medtech West ett seminarium där ett urval forskare från Chalmers, Göteborgs Universitet och SP, Sveriges Tekniska Forskningsinstitut, ger en kort presentation av sina spännande forskningsfält. Vi bjuder också på intressanta paneldebatter där vi tillsammans diskuterar frågor som hur vi genom medicinteknikforskningen kan skapa största möjliga värde för patienterna. Du får chans att mingla med och ställa frågor till forskare under både lunch och kaffepaus.
Välkommen till en spännande och lärorik eftermiddag på Sahlgrenska Universitetssjukhuset med fokus på medicinteknisk forskning och patientnytta!
Tid och plats:
Dag: Torsdag den 16 juni 2016
Plats: Hjärtats aula, Vita stråket 12, Sahlgrenska Universitetssjukhuset
Moderator: Kristina Svensson, Medtech4Health
12.00-12.30 Den medicintekniska forskningsmiljön
Petrus Laestadius, vice VD på Swedish Medtech, presenterar det europeiska initiativet MedTech Week och samarbetet mellan vården, industrin och akademin ur ett nationellt perspektiv. Därefter kommer Henrik Mindedal från MedTech West och Erik Djäken Mårtensson från Innovationsplattformen, Västra Götalandsregionen, att ge oss en kort överblick över hur miljön för den patientnära medicintekniska forskningen ser ut i regionen idag. Professor Sven Ekholm från Sahlgrenska Akademin och universitetssjukhuset berättar om vilka möjligheter det nya Bild- och Interventionscentrum (BoIC), som i dagarna har tagit emot sina första patienter, innebär.
Vi bjuder på en enklare lunch med mingelmöjligheter
13.00-13.45 Bättre diagnoser med bildanalys samt utvecklingen av hörapparater
I detta block kommer vi att få veta mer om vad avancerad bildanalys kan användas till. Det handlar bland annat om diagnostisera hjärntumörer och identifiera patienter som är i riskzonen för hjärtinfarkt. Vet du fördelarna är med benförankrade hörapparater? Det kommer du att få reda på samt höra vad som händer på forskningsfronten.
Deltagare: Prof. Rolf Heckemann, Prof. Bo Håkansson, Prof. Fredrik Kahl, Docent Justin Schneiderman
Under kaffepausen finns möjlighet att ställa frågor till forskarna
14.15-15.00 Snabbare strokediagnos, ny cancerbehandling och framtidens reservdelar
Tiden från det att man drabbas av stroke till dess man får behandling är oerhört viktig för utgången. Just nu pågår forskning kring att ställa diagnos av stroke redan i ambulansen. Även vid cancer är en tidig diagnos betydelsefull. I detta block får vi höra hur mikrovågsteknik eventuellt kan ersätta mammografi för diagnos av bröstcancer. För den som redan drabbats av cancer kan värmebehandling av tumörer snart vara en ny möjlighet. Vi kommer också att få höra om framtidens reservdelar till våra kroppar, det vill säga implantat. Vad är 3D-printing och hur kan tekniken användas i framtiden?
Deltagare: Dr. Hana Dobsicek Trefna, Docent Andreas Fhager, Dr Joakim Håkansson, Docent Anders Palmquist
Värden Henrik Mindedal och moderator Kristina Svensson sammanfattar och avrundar dagen
Plats: Hjärtats aula, Vita stråket 12, Sahlgrenska universitetssjukhuset
Tid: Torsdag den 16 juni 2016, kl. 12.00-15.15
“We are very proud to work together with specialists from Sahlgrenska University Hospital and AstraZeneca to pursue new treatments for patients suffering from CKD. This collaboration is a great example of mutual exchange, and the way the BioVentureHub is facilitating interactions and innovation to strengthen the life science ecosystem in Sweden”, says Johannes Hulthe, CEO Antaros Medical.
Elisabeth Björk, Site Lead & VP, Global Medicines Development Unit, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, AstraZeneca, says: “10% of the population worldwide is affected by chronic kidney disease, and millions die each year because they do not have access to affordable treatment. This imaging study will help us to improve clinical trials in this area. It is the fruit of a great scientific collaboration and a growing mass of research in Västra Götaland around kidney disease.”
Both the Nephrology and Radiology departments here at SU are deeply involved in the trial. The researchers involved at the Nephrology department are Seema Baid-Agrawal, who is also the principle investigator of this study, together with Gert Jensen, Kianoush Makvandi and Aso Saeed. Researchers involved at the Radiology department are Stephan Maier, Mikael Hellström, Henrik Leonhardt and Tim Unnerstall.
“We are excited about this academia-industry collaboration within the field of CKD. The study will help identify novel non-invasive and sensitive biomarkers to assess kidney function and monitor the progression of the disease in patients with CKD, which would be of a high clinical relevance. Sahlgrenska University Hospital with its great infrastructure and competence provides an ideal set up for this kind of study”, says Seema Baid-Agrawal, MD, FASN, Assoc. Prof. at Nephrology department, SU.
A study by the MedTech West researcher Malin Åberg-Björnsdotter published on 20 April in the scientific journal JAMA Psychiatry shows that a new method for measuring brain activity can distinguish autism in boys. The results may lead to new methods for e.g. evaluating effect of treatments.
Malin Björnsdotter, researcher at MedTech West, the Sahlgrenska Academy and Linköping University, has in collaboration with researchers at Yale University and The George Washington University in the US developed a new method for identifying and tracking functions of the brain that are affected in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The method provides a quantitative measure of activity in a certain brain circuit linked to social interaction- something that people with ASD have difficulty with.
– Now that we can measure how well this social perception circuits work in individuals, we will have a concrete tool to monitor neurobiological development processes. The study focuses on the use of biomarkers. The method will be of particular importance for patients who are difficult to diagnose and treat, where the biomarker in the long term can be applied to determine whether a treatment is effective, says Malin Björnsdotter and continues:
– Behavioral symptoms of ASD are so complex and varied that it is difficult to determine whether a new treatment is working, especially within a realistic time frame. Biomarkers can provide specific and objective measures that are easier to assess.
Image: Malin Björnsdotter
114 children with and without ASD diagnosis participated in the study. While the children’s brain activity was recorded with MRI, they got to watch movies where characters made of light points were moving in different ways. The results showed that activity in the social perception brain circuits with high accuracy do reveal ASD in both young and older boys. The results also showed that the method wasn´t successful for girls with ASD.
– ASD is almost five times more common in boys than in girls and we don´t know why, says Malin Björnsdotter. The results indicate differences in how ASD is expressed in the brain, but to understand the underlying mechanisms, we will now look closer on girls with ASD.
The study also shows that applied neuroimaging may be an option in a future patient-centered psychiatric care. Malin Björnsdotter emphasizes that physicians today don´t have access to the specialized and expensive imaging equipment that was used in the research, but the ambition is to eventually develop cheaper and simpler methods that they can use.
The research team will now continue to make further studies on an even larger group of people with ASD and other neuropsychiatric disorders.
Read the full article, Quantified Social Perception Circuit Activity as a Neurobiological Marker of Autism Spectrum Disorder>>
Get the press material that this article is based on, please email: johanna.hillgren[at]gu.se
Today, 2 March, an article with novel findings regarding the processes underlying Alzheimer’s disease was published in the journal Neuron. Shared first author of the article is Michael Schöll from MedTech West and the University of Gothenburg. Michael spent last year as a scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, working with a research group under the lead of professor William Jagust, and the collaboration is continuing after his return to Gothenburg.
This groundbreaking new research shows for the first time that PET scans can track the progressive stages of Alzheimer’s disease in cognitively normal adults, a key advance in the early diagnosis and staging of the neurodegenerative disorder. In the process, the scientists also obtained important clues about two Alzheimer’s-linked proteins – tau and beta-amyloid – and how they relate to each other. The findings come from positron emission tomography (PET) of 53 adults. Five were young adults aged 20-26, 33 were cognitively healthy adults aged 64-90, and 15 were patients aged 53-77 who had been diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s dementia. The stages of tau deposition were established by German researchers Heiko and Eva Braak through post-mortem analysis of the brains of suspected Alzheimer’s patients.
– Braak staging was developed through data obtained from autopsies, but our study is the first to show the staging in people who are not only alive, but who have no signs of cognitive impairment, said study principal investigator Dr. William Jagust, a professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health and at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, and a faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This opens the door to the use of PET scans as a diagnostic and staging tool.
PET scans are used to detect early signs of disease by looking at cellular-level changes in organs and tissue. The results of the scans in this study paralleled Braak neuropathological stages, which range from one to six, describing the degree of tau protein accumulation in the brain. Jagust worked with study co-lead authors Michael Schöll from MedTech West, and Samuel Lockhart, a postdoctoral fellow, both at UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute.
Tau vs. amyloid
Their findings also shed light on the nature of tau and amyloid protein deposits in the aging brain. For many years, the accumulation of beta amyloid plaques was considered the primary culprit in Alzheimer’s disease. Over the past decade, however, tau, a microtubule protein important in maintaining the structure of neurons, has emerged as a major player. When the tau protein gets tangled and twisted, its ability to support synaptic connections becomes impaired. While a number of symptoms exist that signal Alzheimer’s disease, a definitive diagnosis has been possible only through an examination of the brain after the patient has died. The availability of amyloid imaging for the past decade has improved this situation, but how Alzheimer’s developed as a result of amyloid remains a mystery. Studies done in autopsies linked the development of symptoms to the deposition of the tau protein. Through the PET scans, the researchers confirmed that with advancing age, tau protein accumulated in the medial temporal lobe – home to the hippocampus and the memory center of the brain.
– Tau is basically present in almost every aging brain, said Schöll. Very few old people have no tau. In our case, it seems like the accumulation of tau in the medial temporal lobe was independent of amyloid and driven by age.
The study revealed that higher levels of tau in the medial temporal lobe was associated with greater declines in episodic memory, the type of memory used to code new information. The researchers tested episodic memory by asking subjects to recall a list of words viewed 20 minutes earlier.
Both proteins involved in dementia
One question yet to be answered is why so many people have tau in their medial temporal lobe yet never go on to develop Alzheimer’s. Likewise, adults may have beta amyloid in their brains and yet be cognitively healthy.
– It’s not that one is more important than the other, said Lockhart. Our study suggests that they may work together in the progression of Alzheimer’s.
While higher levels of tau in the medial temporal lobe was linked to more problems with episodic memory, it was when tau spread outside this region to other parts of the brain, such as the neocortex, that researchers saw more serious declines in global cognitive function. Significantly, they found that tau’s spread outside the medial temporal lobe was connected to the presence of amyloid plaques in the brain.
– Amyloid may somehow facilitate the spread of tau, or tau may initiate the deposition of amyloid. We don’t know. We can’t answer that at this point, said Jagust. All I can say is that when amyloid starts to show up, we start to see tau in other parts of the brain, and that is when real problems begin. We think that may be the beginning of symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease.
What the study does indicate is that tau imaging could become an important tool in helping to develop therapeutic approaches that target the correct protein – either amyloid or tau – depending on the disease stage, the researchers said.
The article, PET Imaging of Tau Deposition in the Aging Human Brain was published in Neuron journal on 2 March, 2016.
Michael Schöll, researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, MedTech West and guest researcher at University of California, Berkeley