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This is your brain's blood vessels on drugs
Date:8/28/2014

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2014A new method for measuring and imaging how quickly blood flows in the brain could help doctors and researchers better understand how drug abuse affects the brain, which may aid in improving brain-cancer surgery and tissue engineering, and lead to better treatment options for recovering drug addicts. The new method, developed by a team of researchers from Stony Brook University in New York, USA and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was published today in The Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express.

The researchers demonstrated their technique by using a laser-based method of measuring how cocaine disrupts blood flow in the brains of mice. The resulting images are the first of their kind that directly and clearly document such effects, according to co-author Yingtian Pan, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Stony Brook University. "We show that quantitative flow imaging can provide a lot of useful physiological and functional information that we haven't had access to before," he says.

Drugs such as cocaine can cause aneurysm-like bleeding and strokes, but the exact details of what happens to the brain's blood vessels have remained elusivepartly because current imaging tools are limited in what they can see, Pan says. But using their new and improved methods, the team was able to observe exactly how cocaine affects the tiny blood vessels in a mouse's brain. The images reveal that after 30 days of chronic cocaine injection or even after just repeated acute injection of cocaine, there's a dramatic drop in blood flow speed. The researchers were, for the first time, able to identify cocaine-induced microischemia, when blood flow is shut downa precursor to a stroke.

Measuring blood flow is crucial for understanding how the brain is working, whether you're a brain surgeon
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Contact: Angela Stark
astark@osa.org
202-416-1443
The Optical Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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