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Biosensor could help detect brain injuries during heart surgery
Date:11/11/2013

Johns Hopkins engineers and cardiology experts have teamed up to develop a fingernail-sized biosensor that could alert doctors when serious brain injury occurs during heart surgery. By doing so, the device could help doctors devise new ways to minimize brain damage or begin treatment more quickly.

In the Nov. 11 issue of the journal Chemical Science, the team reported on lab tests demonstrating that the prototype sensor had successfully detected a protein associated with brain injuries.

"Ideally, the testing would happen while the surgery is going on, by placing just a drop of the patient's blood on the sensor, which could activate a sound, light or numeric display if the protein is present," said the study's senior author, Howard E. Katz, a Whiting School of Engineering expert in organic thin film transistors, which form the basis of the biosensor.

The project originated about two years ago when Katz, who chairs the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, was contacted by Allen D. Everett, a Johns Hopkins Children's Center pediatric cardiologist who studies biomarkers linked to pulmonary hypertension and brain injury. As brain injury can occur with heart surgery in both adults and children, the biosensor Everett wanted should work on patients of all ages. He is particularly concerned, however, about operating room injuries to children, whose brains are still developing.

"Many of our young patients need one or more heart surgeries to correct congenital heart defects, and the first of these procedures often occurs at birth," Everett said. "We take care of these children through adulthood, and we have all have seen the neurodevelopment problems that occur as a consequence of their surgery and post-operative care. These are very sick children, and we have done a brilliant job of improving overall survival from congenital heart surgery, but we have far to go to improve the long-term outcomes of our patients
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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
443-997-9907
Johns Hopkins University
Source:Eurekalert  

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