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Sensor Detects Levels of Brain Chemicals

Could help in treatment of Parkinson's, epilepsy and depression, researchers say

FRIDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A new wireless deep brain stimulation sensor that can monitor levels of brain chemicals has been developed by Mayo Clinic researchers and colleagues.

The wireless instantaneous neurotransmitter concentration sensor (WINCS) is surgically implanted in the brain to provide real-time measurement of chemicals such as dopamine, glutamate and serotonin.

Monitoring levels of these chemicals may help neurosurgeons determine the best placement of stimulating electrodes during deep brain stimulation (DBS) and improve patient outcomes, the researchers said.

In DBS, mild electrical signals are used to reorganize the brain's electrical and chemical activity to treat symptoms of a number of conditions that affect the brain, including Parkinson's, epilepsy, depression, chronic pain and tremors.

"Potential future implications for (WINCS) are immense," Dr. Kendall Lee, a neurosurgeon and director of the Mayo Clinic Neural Engineering Laboratory, said. "WINCS may be part of a smart deep brain stimulation device that is able to regulate neurotransmitter systems in the brain to better treat diseases such as Parkinson's disease, depression, chronic pain and others."

Details about the sensor were to be presented Friday at the American Academy of Neurological Surgery meeting, in Sedona, Ariz.

More information

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons has more about deep brain stimulation.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Sept. 12, 2008

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