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Sensor gives valuable data for neurological diseases and treatments
Date:4/19/2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - 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 almo
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Contact: Brian Wallheimer
bwallhei@purdue.edu
765-496-2050
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert

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