Biomedical Engineering Professor Teams up With Local Business for Award on Traumatic Brain Injury

Kartik Balachandran, associate professor of biomedical engineering
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Kartik Balachandran, associate professor of biomedical engineering

A University of Arkansas researcher has received funding to continue work with a local business to develop and commercialize a brain chip that could foster a better understanding of traumatic brain injury and help patients recover. The chip, named the Advanced Microphysiological Brain Injury Technology (AMBIT) Platform, will allow for improved understanding of this devastating injury.

Kartik Balachandran, associate professor of biomedical engineering, will receive a $247,393 subaward from Nanomatronix LLC as part of its $750,000 Direct-to-Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Award through the Department of Defense.

"We first designed and developed the AMBIT in our laboratory. We are excited to be working along with one of our commercial partners, Nanomatronix, on this award, to further the commercialization of this technology," Balachandran said. "As we continue to make strides in the research of traumatic brain injury, we aim to provide solutions to provide better recovery for patients."

The subaward will be used to create a human cell-based AMBIT that incorporates primary cell types found in the brain and surrounding blood-brain barrier and to test and validate post-TBI neuropathology in the platform.

Advances in treatment of traumatic brain injury are important, considering that the United States reports 1.7 million new cases each year, said Matthew Leftwich, Nanomatronix CEO, in a recent article by the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center.

About 20% of veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan experienced a traumatic brain injury, the majority from a blast. In most cases, a traumatic brain injury is caused by a single impact. "However, there are increasing instances of repetitive traumatic insults to the brain that cause increased vulnerability to downstream pathology. Traumatic brain injury is closely associated with alterations of the blood-brain barrier," Leftwich said.

Benchtop models that repeat what occurs during the traumatic brain injury are needed to study the long-term effects and to assist with drug development and testing. The AMBIT technology aims to address this gap.

Raj R. Rao, professor and head of biomedical engineering, is encouraged by this collaboration. "Working with a small business to move products to commercialization demonstrates the importance of what our faculty's research can accomplish," said Rao. "Dr. Balachandran's work on TBI and the brain-chip concept demonstrate how research can assist companies transport their ideas to become products for end users."

Find more news about the Department of Biomedical Engineering.



Kartik Balachandran, associate professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Jennifer P. Cook, director of communications
College of Engineering


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