Packing light and sound into needles to treat brain and liver

Hydrocephalus is a condition where there is build-up of fluid in the brain and surgeons typically treat it by inserting a shunt (tube) inside the ventricle and draining excess fluid; but once they are

Published: 29th May 2018 05:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th May 2018 05:31 AM   |  A+A-

Dr Srirang Manohar

Express News Service

BENGALURU:Hydrocephalus is a condition where there is build-up of fluid in the brain and surgeons typically treat it by inserting a shunt (tube) inside the ventricle and draining excess fluid; but once they are inside the ventricle the surgeon navigates it blind.

Come August, an Indo-Dutch collaboration of researchers from the University of Twente and NIMHANS here will start working on a needle-scope that is packed with optic fibres that can transmit laser light and ultrasound sensors that will help surgeons do the procedure more accurately.

The development of needles that can create local internal images by means of ‘photoacoustics’ is a promising technology. Professor Dr Srirang Manohar who was here on Monday will lead the Indian-Dutch research collaboration funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw).

Asked if there is any risk to the brain tissue from this needle scope, Prof Manohar said, "We will work with micro optic lenses at the tip of the probe to diverge light before it hits the brain tissue, so there is less intensity to damage the brain tissue."

Called 'Imaging Needles: Deep tissue multi-modal molecular imaging needle-probes', this is one of three joint research projects, the project that will be kicked off on Aug 1, will be a four-year one. During this period, the technology will be tested in clinical settings in labs at NIMHANS (in the final year) and St John's Research Institute (SJRI) (in the third year).

While Prof Dhananjay Bhat from the department of neurosurgery, NIMHANS, will be providing the neurological input, Prof Tony Raj from SJRI will provide oncological input to test the technology on liver tumours. Dr Manish Arora from Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru will help in prototype design, image reconstruction and analysis.

"These needles would make it possible for surgeons to see whether they have removed every last piece of a tumour. They will also help doctors performing biopsies to check that they are taking tissue samples from the right place," Manohar said.

Prof Manohar travelled to India from his home base in the Netherlands, as a part of Dutch PM Rutte’s mission to India — the biggest Dutch mission to India ever.

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