Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sensor gives valuable data for neurological diseases and treatments

20.04.2010
A new biosensor developed at Purdue University can measure whether neurons are performing correctly when communicating with each other, giving researchers a tool to test the effectiveness of new epilepsy or seizure treatments.

Marshall Porterfield, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering and biomedical engineering, postdoctoral researcher Eric McLamore, and graduate student Subhashree Mohanty developed the self-referencing glutamate biosensor to measure real-time glutamate flux of neural cells in a living organism. The nanosensor not only measures glutamate around neural cells, it can tell how those cells are releasing or taking up glutamate, a key to those cells' health and activity.

"Before we did this, people were only getting at glutamate indirectly or through huge, invasive probes," said Porterfield, whose research was published in the early online version of the Journal of Neuroscience Methods. "With this sensor, we can 'listen' to glutamate signaling from the cells."

The firing of neurons is involved in every action or movement in a human body. Neurons work electrically, but ultimately communicate with each other through chemical neurotransmitters such as glutamate. One neuron will release glutamate to convey information to the next neuron's cell receptors.

Once the message is delivered, neurons are supposed to reabsorb or clear out the glutamate signal. It is believed that when neurons release too much or too little glutamate and are not able to clear it properly, people are prone to neurological diseases.

Jenna Rickus, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering and biomedical engineering who oversaw the study's neurological aspects, said researchers need more information about how neurons work to create more effective treatments for neurological disorders.

"Understanding neurotransmitter dynamics has implications for almost all normal and pathological brain function," Rickus said. "The reason we don't have good information is because we haven't had a good measurement tool before."

Porterfield and McLamore's sensor exploits conductive carbon nanotubes and is only 2 micrometers in diameter, or about 50 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. They also use an enzyme, called glutamate oxidase, on the end of the probe that reacts with glutamate to create hydrogen peroxide. The carbon nanotubes enhance the conductivity of the hydrogen peroxide, and a computer can calculate the movement of glutamate relative to the cell surface.

The sensor oscillates and samples the concentration activities of glutamate at various positions relative to the neurons in culture. Those measurements at different distances can tell researchers whether the glutamate is flowing back toward the neurons or dissipating in many directions.

Current sensor technology allows for sensing in vitro, but those probes are large and invasive, Porterfield said, and they don't measure the movement of the chemicals.

McLamore said the sensor also is valuable because it is able to hone in on only glutamate using just one probe and custom software that filters out variations in the signals that are read, which removes signal noise due to other compounds.

"There are many compounds present near the neurons which can potentially create noise, but this sensor should be selective for one compound. We filter out all of the background noise," McLamore said. "It's the same thing modern hearing aids do. They're filtering out ambient noises, and that's the same thing you get when you oscillate a biosensor."

The sensor also could be adapted to measure other chemicals by changing the enzyme used on its tip.

Rickus said the sensor's versatility would be valuable for understanding the effects of therapies for epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, damage caused by chemotherapy, memory loss and many other conditions. The sensor will give valuable data on how damaged neurons function and how drugs or therapies affect those cells.

Porterfield said the next step is to make small improvements to the sensor and adapt it to use other enzymes. The Office of Naval Research funded the research.

Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-496-2050, bwallhei@purdue.edu

Sources: Marshall Porterfield, 765-494-1190, porterf@purdue.edu
Jenna Rickus, 765-494-1197, rickus@purdue.edu
Eric McLamore, 806-239-9556, emclamor@purdue.edu

Brian Wallheimer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.purdue.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>