Neurodegenerative disorders are an increasing disease in the western world. Stem cells were found to be a potent regenerative therapy in the related Alzheimer’s disease, but their targeting is difficult since they are hindered by the blood-brain barrier. Focused ultrasound (FUS) provides a new strategy for stem cell application because it is able to open the blood-brain-barrier in a non-invasive, local and transient way. Its combination with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows for guidance, targeting and monitoring in real time (MRgFUS). This HEiKA project in collaboration with Medical Faculty of Mannheim aims at developing and evaluating a non-invasive and reliable blood-brain-barrier opening in mice to enable systemic administration of stem cells to brain parenchyma. In order to establish a reliable opening protocol, we focus first on an adequate therapy planning using automated segmentation of mouse anatomy and estimation of the FUS parameters with acoustic or elastic simulations.
Figure 1: Example of an acoustic simulation with the kWave toolbox
In this student assistant position, we aim at developing a realistic acoustic simulation of the FUS transducer, system and mouse anatomy in order to derive a deeper understanding of the subject-individual application. For acoustic simulation, we are planning to apply available tools such as kWave (http://www.k-wave.org/ ) or Field II (https://field-ii.dk/ ). As these tools do not account for shear modes in bone, which may change the acoustic pressure field, we furthermore want to analyze this effect and – if necessary – take into account the elastic aspect of wave propagation by applying simulators that are more sophisticated.
- Development of acoustical simulation with existing toolboxes taking into account the FUS transducer geometry, FUS system parameters and mouse skull anatomy.
- Analysis and comparison of the simulation results with respect to real data measurements.
- Programming skills in MATLAB required.
- Interest in medical imaging and in particular ultrasound imaging.
- Basic knowledge in acoustic simulations beneficial.
According to prior agreement, up to 40 hours/month
Torsten Hopp, * torsten.hopp∂kit.edu
Nicole Ruiter, * nicole.ruiter∂kit.edu