UC Riverside Researchers Develop New Medical Tool To Treat Neurological Afflictions

Aug 28, 2017

A version of the ceramic skull implant developed by a UC Riverside-led team of researchers.
Credit David Baillot for UC Riverside

Researchers at the University of California Riverside have developed a ceramic skull implant where doctors can deliver ultrasound treatments on a recurring basis.  KVCR's Isel Cuapio spoke with Guillermo Aguilar, professor and chair of Mechanical Engineering about the research efforts.

Ultrasound brain surgery has tremendous potential for the treatment of neurological diseases and cancers, but getting sound waves through the skull and into the brain is not easy. A team of Researchers at UC Riverside have developed a ceramic skull implant that can deliver ultrasound treatments on demand.

Recently, a paper describing their research efforts was published in the journal for Advanced Healthcare. Guillermo Aguilar, Professor and chair of mechanical engineering in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering says the publication extends work being done by UCR’s international, interdisciplinary ‘Window to the Brain’ project, which is a partnership with UC San Diego and three research institutions in Mexico.

Aguilar: “In this particular paper, there were several players. The lead author is Mario Gutierrez, who is assisted by Elias Penilla. And we also got the collaboration from colleagues in Mexico Lorenzo Leja and Arturo Vera who helped with the characterization of the samples and Javier and I have been the two Co-Principal Investigators leading the efforts of this project called Window to the Brain.”

The team of researchers received funding from the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships in International Research and Education (PIRE) program, and additional funding from the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT).

To help doctors deliver therapeutic sound waves into the brain, the researchers developed a transparent ceramic material that is biocompatible, which could be used to replace a part of the cranium and allows easy transmissions of ultrasounds waves into the brain. The current material could be used to deliver both ultrasound and laser-based treatments.

Guillermo Aguilar says this cranial implant could really benefit a whole variety of applications, “For one, being able to transmit light but also acoustic or ultrasounds waves, it opens the door for wide variety for therapeutic and diagnostic and surgical procedures to the brain.”

Guillermo Aguilar and Javier Garay, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in UC San Diego, led the project with researchers from CINVESTAV The Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City.