Terry, NSRI team get $1.3M grant to develop microbubble technology

Terry, NSRI team get $1.3M grant to develop microbubble technology

Calendar Icon Nov 21, 2016          RSS Feed RSS

Dr. Benjamin Terry, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, is designing and developing a new medical device that delivers oxygen microbubbles to patients whose lungs cannot function efficiently due to trauma. (Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications)
Dr. Benjamin Terry, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, is designing and developing a new medical device that delivers oxygen microbubbles to patients whose lungs cannot function efficiently due to trauma. (Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications)

A National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) team that includes Nebraska engineers has been awarded a $1.3 million grant from the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General to advance the development of microbubble oxygenation, an emerging medical technology that would provide oxygen to patients whose lungs cannot function efficiently due to trauma.

Nebraska's Benjamin Terry, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and Mark Borden, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, were the inventors of a method of administering microbubbles to patients with traumatic injuries that inhibit their breathing.

"Our system transforms the abdomen into a third lung, so to speak," Terry said. "Through a method of pumping and delivering oxygen microbubbles into the abdomen while removing dangerous carbon dioxide, the process delivers life-sustaining oxygen to the body's core which is then circulated to the brain and other vital organs."

Microbubbles are tiny bubbles, each one only a fraction of the size of a human hair, that are designed to mimic the alveoli in the human lung by releasing oxygen to the body and simultaneously removing carbon dioxide.

The support of the Air Force will move the research forward in three significant directions across three labs at three universities.

* Terry will design and develop a medical device that delivers oxygen microbubbles to patients.

* Borden will create a process and system capable of large-scale manufacturing.

* Keely Buesing, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center will develop injury models for testing the new technique.

Buesing noted that one of the biggest factors in developing this technology is that getting injured troops to hospitals often allows for few options to treat severe lung failure.

Terry said that the current en-route care system of transporting patients has a high survival rate, but that "unique scenarios could severely stress the system in the event of mass casualties from a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) event," which would overwhelm the current transport systems. This technology, Terry said, aims to increase the survival rate of injured patients so they can reach the most capable treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation facilities.

The Center for Advanced Surgical Technology (CAST) at UNMC, a collaborative, multidisciplinary group of surgeons, engineers, and computer scientists from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and University of Nebraska at Omaha is a key player in growing and sponsoring collaboration with the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General. CAST be a partner for one of the projects from the research contract.

The NSRI, a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC), located at the University of Nebraska, is one of 13 established UARCs across the nation, delivering relevant and timely research solutions directly impacting the U.S. Department of Defense operations and national security.

Founded in 2012, the NSRI at the University of Nebraska is the only University Affiliated Research Center in the country dedicated to delivering solutions for combating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to U.S. Strategic Command and across other federal agencies. NSRI provides research and development for the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and other governmental agencies in multiple mission-critical competency areas — including development of medical countermeasures to WMD; nuclear detection and forensics; consequence management; chemical and biological weapons detection; and space, cyber, and telecom law.