In the United States, a brain aneurysm ruptures every 18 minutes. Approximately 40% of ruptured brain aneurysms result in death. While less common, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are similarly devastating, with mortality rates exceeding 50%. For both conditions, the majority of survivors will be left with permanent neurological deficits.
Numerous challenges remain in the detection and treatment of brain aneurysms and AVMs. These vascular lesions are often asymptomatic until they rupture, and unruptured lesions are usually discovered incidentally. At the Barrow Aneurysm and AVM Research Center (BAARC), critical research is taking place to explore the genetics, formation, and rupture of aneurysms and AVMs. Our work pushes the boundaries of care beyond our walls, leading to the development of new, less invasive, and more effective treatments for patients around the world.
Learn more about the laboratories conducting this vital scientific work below.
The Hashimoto Lab conducts bench-to-bedside research of intracranial aneurysm. Our goal is to discover new therapeutic approaches that stabilize aneurysms and prevent their rupture. To accomplish this, we use a unique preclinical model which forms aneurysms that closely mimic the pathophysiological characteristics of human aneurysms, including the tendency to rupture spontaneously.
Using the preclinical model, we test various molecular targets that help us to understand the biological processes contributing to aneurysmal rupture. Simultaneously, we examine human aneurysm and blood samples acquired through the Biobank Core Facility in effort to translate our findings from preclinical studies to actual patient care.
In healthy tissues, apoptotic cells are quickly cleared by the immune system in a process called efferocytosis. However, high levels of apoptotic cells have been found in the tissues of ruptured aneurysms, suggesting that deficiencies in efferocytosis may be linked to aneurysm rupture. Our group is investigating whether modulation of efferocytosis can prevent the rupture of intracranial aneurysm.
Neutrophil Extracellular Traps
Neutrophils, a type of immune cell, can self-destruct and release decondensed networks of DNA referred to as Neutophil Extracellular Traps (NETs). While this generally has an antimicrobial function, its dysregulation can result in recurrent inflammation in vascular tissues. We are investigating whether the interruption of NET formation can prevent the rupture of intracranial aneurysm.
Aging and Senescence
In response to aging or stress, cells may cease to divide, becoming senescent. Senescent cells accumulate with age in many tissues, where they secrete an array of inflammatory proteins that promote dysfunction and disease. Recent studies have shown the surprising effectiveness of removing senescent cells for the prevention of numerous diseases and the extension of lifespan in animals. We are beginning to study whether senescent cells may be targeted for the prevention of aneurysm rupture.
Tomoki Hashimoto, MD
Tomoki Hashimoto, MD, is a professor of neuro-anesthesiology and neurobiology and the director of translational neurovascular research in the Barrow Aneurysm and AVM Research Center. He is board certified in anesthesiology by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Hashimoto’s expertise includes clinical anesthesiology and vascular biology. He earned his medical degree from Gifu University School of Medicine in Japan. He received his residency training in anesthesia at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. He completed a clinical/research fellowship at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center and University of California, San Francisco.
Jinglu Ai, MD, PhD
Jinglu Ai, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of neurobiology in the Barrow Aneurysm and AVM Research Center. Dr. Ai’s expertise includes translational research of neurological disorders, including traumatic brain injury and subarachnoid hemorrhage. He is a member of the Stroke Council of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and the World Stroke Organization. Dr. Ai earned both his master’s degree and medical degree from Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy in Harbin, China. He earned a PhD in pathology from the Academy of Chinese Medical Science in Beijing and a PhD in neuroscience from the Roskilde University Center in Denmark. He completed postdoctoral fellowships in neuroscience at Stony Brook University in New York and The Hospital for Sick Children affiliated with the University of Toronto in Canada. Dr. Ai’s current research interests include translational mechanistic studies on the formation and rupture of aneurysms.
Hiroki Sato, MD
Hiroki Sato, MD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Hashimoto Laboratory at the Barrow Aneurysm and AVM Research Center. He is board certified in neurosurgery by the Japanese Board of Neurosurgery. Dr. Sato earned his medical degree from Saitama Medical University in Japan, and he completed his residency training in neurosurgery at Saitama Medical University International Medical Center and Nagoya Kyouritsu Hospital. In 2016 and 2017, Dr. Sato served as chief at the Department of Neurosurgery at Nagoya Kyouritsu Hospital. He joined the Hashimoto Lab in 2017.
Hitomi Sato, RN
Hitomi Sato, RN, is a research associate in the Hashimoto Laboratory at the Barrow Aneurysm and AVM Research Center. Hitomi earned her nursing degree from Saiseikai Nursing College in 2008. After graduating, Ms. Sato worked in orthopedic surgery for six years at Saiseikai Kawaguchi General Hospital in Saitama, Japan. She then worked as a staff nurse for two years at Asaka Kosei Hospital in Saitama. Hitomi joined the Hashimoto Lab in 2019.
James Purcell, MSc
James Purcell, MSc, is a research associate in the Hashimoto Laboratory at the Barrow Aneurysm and AVM Research Center. James earned his BSc in biochemistry from Arizona State University in 2018. He completed an internship at the Mayo Clinic in 2018, where he helped to develop a glycan-based contrast coating agent for use in CT colonography. Mr. Purcell earned his MSc in biochemistry from Arizona State University in 2019, where he studied the structural dynamics of protein-carbohydrate interactions. He joined the Hashimoto Lab in 2019.