The neurotransmitter glutamate seems to play an important part in a number of psychophysiologic processes. Migraines after spinal cord injuries, for example, are common typically due to a release of high concentrations of glutamate. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases also tend to show higher glutamate levels in patients. Tracking the levels of this chemical is very difficult, and so the development of new therapies that moderate the release of glutamate is impeded.

Now researchers at Purdue University have developed a miniscule glutamate sensor, which is flexible and small enough to implant into the spinal cords of lab animals. It is able to relay nearly immediately changes in glutamate concentrations, something that normally would take up to a half hour in the past. Though initially designed for research purposes, the technology may one day translate into a component of a monitoring and treatment system for a number of glutamate-related conditions.

The technology that the Purdue team created actually allows researchers to quickly build implantable glutamate sensors of different sizes and shapes, allowing them to fit within small, complicated, and fragile anatomy around the brain and spinal cord.

Here’s a bit of details about the sensor:

The biosensor is fabricated by immobilizing glutamate oxidase on nanocomposite electrodes made of platinum nanoparticles, multi-walled carbon nanotubes, and a conductive polymer on a flexible substrate. The sensor is designed to measure extracellular dynamics of glutamate and other potential biomarkers during a traumatic spinal cord injury event.

Here’s a Purdue University video explaining the technology:

Study in Biosensors and Bioelectronics: Facile fabrication of flexible glutamate biosensor using direct writing of platinum nanoparticle-based nanocomposite ink…

Via: Purdue University…

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