Nov 6, 2022

Breaking Through to the Brain

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, nanotechnology, robotics/AI

Traumatic brain injuries might have faded from the headlines since the NFL reached a $765 million settlement for concussion-related brain injuries, but professional football players aren’t the only ones impacted by these injuries. Each year, between 2 million and 3 million Americans suffer from traumatic brain injuries—from elderly people who fall and hit their head, to adolescents playing sports or falling out of trees, to people in motor vehicle accidents.

There are currently no treatments to stop the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and accurate diagnosis requires a visit to a medical center for a CT scan or MRI, both of which involve large, expensive equipment.

UC San Diego bioengineering Professor Ester Kwon, who leads the Nanoscale Bioengineering research lab at the Jacobs School of Engineering, aims to change that. Kwon’s team is developing nanomaterials—materials with dimensions on the nanometer scale—that could be used to diagnose traumatic brain injury on the spot, be it a sports field, the scene of a car accident, or a clinical setting. They’re also engineering nanoparticles that could target the portion of the patient’s brain that was injured, delivering specific therapeutics to treat the injury and improve the patient’s long-term quality of life.

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