Micro-Aneurysm-On-A-Chip to Model Vascular Disease


An international research collaboration, including teams from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), Brown University, and MIT, has developed an AI platform that can assess blood flow characteristics through microvasculature. The system relies on a microfluidic chip that mimics vascular disease, in this case a micro-aneurysm in the eye.

The AI platform uses 2D images of fluid flow through the chip to calculate how blood would flow in three dimensions. The resulting data could help clinicians to learn more about vascular diseases, improve their diagnosis, and track their progression.

“Currently, measuring the mechanics of blood flow in the smallest blood vessels requires sophisticated equipment and trained personnel,” said Subra Suresh, a researcher involved in the study. “Our AI technology integrates images, experimental data, and the underlying physics, enabling microcirculation blood flow to be analyzed easily and accurately to assess vascular injury and disease state. With this platform, we can now gain important mechanical information and insights into disease evolution mechanisms that were previously very cumbersome to extract.”

To validate the AI platform, the researchers tested it using a chip that mimicked the micro-aneurysms that can occur in the diabetic eye, and modeled small, intermediate, and large aneurysms. The system successfully extrapolated a variety of blood flow parameters following imaging of the chip in full flow, including shear stress, speed, and pressure. This technology may be useful in diagnosing and monitoring real-life micro-aneurysms using images taken of such phenomena.

“We tested our platform on microaneurysms, the earliest symptom of diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of vision loss in working-age diabetic patients globally,” said George Karniadakis, another researcher involved in the study. “Our ultimate goal is to use the platform in clinical settings for diabetic retinopathy diagnosis and prognosis as well as in other diseases involving impaired blood flow.”  

Suresh and Karniadakis hope that their technology may also be useful in diagnosing and monitoring other vascular disorders, and the system could be tested or trained using other microfluidic devices that mimic a variety of vascular issues.

See a video about the technology below.

Study in Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences: Artificial intelligence velocimetry and microaneurysm-on-a-chip for three-dimensional analysis of blood flow in physiology and disease

Via: NTU Singapore

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