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Title: Adaptation of biophysical platforms to the study of blast injury
Author: Butler, Benjamin John
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 4558
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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The recent years of sustained global conflict have resulted in an increased prevalence of complex blast injuries. Due to improvements in acute clinical treatment, particularly in the context of the theatre of war, injuries that would have proved fatal in past wars are now eminently survivable. However, blast survivors can have short- and long-term post-traumatic conditions that are direct consequences of tissue damage. An improved understanding of the the mechanical properties and pathophysiological consequences of tissues subjected to blast and high-strain rate injury, would be of great value to translational research in the areas of blast and trauma. To do this effectively requires the development of model systems that can be used to study blast and impact-related trauma in physiologically relevant conditions. In this context, a key aim of this thesis has been the development of experimental protocols and experimental platforms aimed at understanding how fresh tissues respond to compression and blast-type pressures. First, both dynamic and quasi-static testing apparatus were used to study the mechanical properties of biological samples. The knowledge gleaned from this testing is used to infer the biomechanical basis of susceptibility to blast for a given sample. Secondly, this thesis describes the modification of a shock tube to the testing of respiratory tissue in a controlled and reproducible environment together with the use of sensors to elucidate the waveforms to which the samples are subjected. This knowledge can again be coupled with the mechanical and biological data to provide a more complete picture of the underlying biophysical interactions. Thirdly, an ex vivo organ culture (EVOC) model system has been adapted to create a preclinical model of the combined effects of mechanical trauma and infection in respiratory tissues. This system, in tandem with histological analyses and a modified fluorescent bead assay provided the opportunity to study structural and functional changes in tissues over time. The project, in its entirety, therefore, offers the opportunity to combine these multiple data streams into a coherent whole, which will hopefully serve to inform both future basic science and clinical practice. Lastly, looking forward, the relevance of the EVOC system to the study of more complex biophysical interactions, other conflict-relevant phenomena (chemical and biological warfare) and biological tissue function is discussed.
Supervisor: Brown, Katherine Sponsor: Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Blast Injury ; Biomechanics ; Experimental Platforms