A collaborative 3D brain-mapping project between the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) has received a $3.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
Together, researchers from both groups aim to create a software program that builds personalized 3D maps of the location of brain functions extracted from magnetic resonance imaging scans. Standard brain maps show anatomical landmarks, but don’t indicate where critical brain functions, such as language and motor function, are found.
“Every neurosurgeon uses a navigation system, but we want it to be even better. We want to give them the ability not only to navigate the brain anatomy, but to know the implications of making incisions into each of those components of anatomy, ” co-principal investigator Dr. Eric Leuthardt of Washington U said in a prepared statement.
The new system will operate on resting-state functional MRI, as opposed to the more invasive cortical stimulation, to map the functional areas of the brain in advance of surgery.
“We have found a better way to create these functional maps, but even if we have them, the way functional information is handled can be very primitive. In many hospitals, the radiologist produces pictures of where on the brain the motor system is, where the language system is, where they are located relative to the surgical site, etc., but the information is not always well-integrated into the surgical navigation system,” co-principal investigator Dr. Joshua Shimony of Washington U said in a prepared statement.
With the grant, investigators will integrate resting state functional scan data into Medtronic’s neurosurgery imaging and navigational system to create 3D structural and functional maps of patient’s brains.
The investigators previously developed a system which interfaces with Medtronic’s StealthStation at Barnes-Jewish Hospital which takes resting state functional data to produce individualized functional maps, but the system requires a specially trained operator. The researchers now hope to streamline the process using automation developed by Carl Hacker.
“We’re creating a software package that is going to combine our expertise in interpreting resting state data with the navigational technology at Medtronic, so that anyone who wants to use resting state MRI to map functional areas, or to make a brain map for use in surgical planning, can have that readily available. “We think it will be a win-win situation,” Leuthardt said in a press release.