A new tool to assess brain function and cerebrovascular health

Sergio Fantini has developed an innovative tool that helps in the early diagnosis and monitoring of cerebrovascular disorders.  Cerebrovascular diseases are the second leading cause of death, the second leading cause of dementia, and the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Sergio, who is Professor of Biomedical Engineering, focuses on biomedical optics, specifically in diffuse near-infrared spectroscopy and imaging of biological tissues.  His new tool Coherent Hemodynamics Spectroscopy (CHS) assesses cerebrovascular integrity and enhances functional neuroimaging.

The medical diagnosis of brain disorders can be difficult due to the sensitivity of brain tissue to invasive medical procedures. For this reason, techniques have been developed to noninvasively measure physiological characteristics of brain tissue for diagnosing and monitoring of brain disorders.

CHS is a novel technique for cerebrovascular assessment based on measurements of induced oscillations of cerebral blood flow.  At the heart of this new technology lies a novel hemodynamic model to relate changes in blood volume, blood flow, and oxygen consumption to the associated hemodynamic effects that are measurable with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Areas of direct applicability of this new technique are medical diagnostics aimed at cerebrovascular assessment and functional neuroimaging.  This new technology may help in the diagnosis and monitoring of cerebrovascular disorders, neurological deficits, vascular dementia, and impaired cerebral autoregulation.

Bringing Product to Market

Sergio validated his new model in humans with published results in April 2013 as e-publication ahead-of-print editions of NeuroImage.  CHS has been demonstrated on a group of healthy human subjects, confirming its ability to provide measures of local cerebral autoregulation. The model has also been validated on fNIRS and fMRI data, demonstrating its accuracy at relating measured fNIRS and fMRI signals with associated changes in blood volume, blood flow, and oxygen consumption.

Sergio is actively collaborating with Tufts Tech Transfer to help realize the commercial potential of his invention. The office has filed for patent protection and is now identifying prospective industry partners.

In June 2013 Sergio presented his technology at the Mass Life Sciences Innovation Day in Boston, MA.  Over 400 people including life science investors and representatives from biopharma companies attended the event.

Next steps for Sergio include optimizing the CHS model, assessing the reliability and reproducibility of the measurements, and refining the fitting procedures used to apply the model to analyze the data.  It is critically important to assess cerebral hemodynamics in clinical practice, and this novel CHS method is applicable in a variety of areas including stroke, traumatic brain injury, neurovascular disorders, anesthesia, hemodialysis treatment, and brain function impairment.