Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine are potentially revolutionary approaches for replacing diseased or destroyed organs and tissues. Funded by the NIH, Professor Diane Dalecki and Professor Denise Hocking lead a multidisciplinary research program focused on developing ultrasound-based, enabling technologies for the fabrication and monitoring of functional, three-dimensional engineered tissues.
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A main focus of research in the Dalecki lab centers on investigating the mechanisms of interaction of ultrasound fields with biological tissues. Physical mechanisms for the production of bioeffects with ultrasound include heating, cavitation, and purely mechanical interactions of the sound field with the tissue, such as radiation force and acoustic streaming.
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Underwater sound fields are used for numerous commercial and military applications, including imaging, oil exploration, and mapping the ocean. Sponsored by the U.S. Navy, the Dalecki laboratory is investigating the interaction of underwater sound fields with biological tissues, such as lung, heart, brain, and intestine.
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There is a critical need for new technologies to accelerate or improve the healing of chronic soft tissue wounds. Funded by the NIH, Professor Diane Dalecki and Denise Hocking lead a multidisciplinary research program to develop the use of ultrasound in chronic wound therapy. Current efforts concentrate on using ultrasound to enhance cell growth and contractility, stimulate epithelial cell migration, and promote collagen organization and mechanical strength in tissues.
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Ultrasound contrast agents are suspensions of gas-filled microbubbles that are currently used to enhance the capabilities of diagnostic imaging. Microbubble contrast agents are also providing new avenues for therapeutic applications of ultrasound in areas such as gene transfection, drug delivery, and thrombolysis. Ongoing research in the Dalecki lab focuses on developing an understanding of the physical and biological mechanisms for the interaction of ultrasound fields with tissues containing microbubble contrast agents.
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Ongoing work in the Dalecki lab is dedicated to discovering and advancing novel therapeutic applications of ultrasound. Therapeutic applications of ultrasound depend upon the direct interaction of the sound field with the tissue to produce the desired effect. For example, lithotripsy is the use of high intensity acoustic shock waves to fragment kidney stones non-invasively. Many new ultrasound therapies are on the horizon, including drug delivery, wound healing, thrombolysis, high intensity focused ultrasound surgery, and gene transfection.
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