WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Gaurav Chopra and Riyi Shi have invested years of their time understanding the immune system and now will use this to help patients with traumatic brain injuries improve their quality of lives.
Chopra is the principal investigator of the project.
This week, his efforts helped pull in a grant from the Department of Defense worth north of 1 million dollars, which pushes his team's research to the next level.
"Since 2013, as veterans commit suicide, the death toll has already surpassed that number it's reached while in combat," said Shi. "So we have a very urgent problem."
With the help of students, research has shown that the body's own immune system can help fight off Alzheimers among other diseases, if it's trained to.
The concept comes from years of research done on cancer patients and lessons that were learned by using the body's immune system.
"We can use the body's immune system, specifically the immune cells in the brain to find new targets, new biomarkers and even treat traumatic brain injury related to Alzheimer's disease," said Chopra.
Their findings could one day help veterans across the Greater Lafayette area cope with medical problems after they return from war. The research they have done though, doesn't limit itself to veterans. Football players are also affected, causing CTE in many former players.
"All of these forms (of trauma) can cause the brain to deform," said Shi.
The research team working on this project is currently testing on small rodents including mice. They hope to move their trials forward within the next few years.