Rasheed Afinowi's PhD research into subarachnoid haemorrhage

Brain Research Trust funded PhD student, Rasheed Afinowi, over three years, during which he carried out a research project into subarachnoid haemorrhage, a subtype of stroke.

Subarachnoid Haemorrhage is most often caused by the rupture of cerebral aneurysms, abnormally enlarged balloon-like blood vessels. Approximately 8,500 people in the UK each year are affected by this sudden and severe condition where patients bleed on the brain surface. Subarachnoid haemorrhage mainly affects younger people in the prime of life and results in disability or death.

As little can be done about the initial primary brain injury, Rasheed’s research was to find out how to prevent secondary brain injury arising from complications such as delayed cerebral ischaemia (secondary stroke) and re-bleeding. Secondary strokes are poorly understood and therefore, it is vital to facilitate the development of new therapies for patients with this type of stroke.

Rasheed’s research project follows on from research previously funded by the Brain Research Trust into abnormal clotting patterns (thickening of blood) in patients who had experienced subarachnoid haemorrhage. His work focuses on studying the function of platelets using a technique known as flow cytometry.

Platelets are small blood cells normally present in all individuals. They are multi-functional and help to mediate blood vessel spasm and blood clotting - processes thought to play important roles in the pathophysiology of subarachnoid haemorrhage. Flow cytometry measures the response of individual cells using a combination of fluorescent-antibody binding and laser excitation to elicit a response that can be directly measured on the cell surface.