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Implants detect changes in chemical released following spinal injury – The Engineer

Saturday, 30 March, 2019

Implants detect changes in chemical released following spinal injury – The Engineer

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It has previously been impossible to detect such a fast change in the level of the responsible neurotransmitter, glutamate. Biomedical engineers from Purdue University have now developed an implant that can detect a glutamate spike and help track the damage it causes, which may find future use as a method for determining whether drugs for brain trauma or diseases are working.

In healthy people, glutamate is associated with function such as learning and memorising. Damage to the spinal cord can cause it to leak into spaces outside cells, over-exciting and damaging them. This tends to occur very rapidly, with glutamate levels suddenly spiking.

“When you feel like you’re running a fever, it doesn’t matter when you check your temperature – it will probably be the same for several hours. But a glutamate spike is so fast that if you don’t capture it at that moment, you miss the whole opportunity to get data,” said Riyi Shi, a professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering in Purdue’s Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

Devices that have been developed so far are not sensitive enough to detect glutamate, fast enough to capture a spike or affordable enough for long-term research or clinical application. In a paper in Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Shi and the Purdue team explain how they produced a flexible sensor from platinum nanoparticle-based nanocomposite ink, using 3D printing and laser micro-machining.

Read more at: https://www.theengineer.co.uk/spinal-injuries-biosensor-purdue/

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