Tiny wireless sensor to monitor brain oxygen levels instantly

April 20th, 2009 - 4:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 20 (IANS) Scientists have developed the first ever wireless sensor, smaller than a dime coin, that gives second-by-second readings of oxygen levels in the brain.
The new microsensor could become instrumental in testing drugs and other treatments for patients with traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and other conditions.

Pier Andrea Serra and colleagues from Italy and Germany noted that the most common method for monitoring brain neurochemical levels is microdialysis, a technique that requires insertion of a relatively big probe into the brain.

That technique, however, has several disadvantages including low sample rate and the necessity of a complex analytical apparatus.

Serra and colleagues described development and testing in lab rats of a wireless sensor that overcomes some of those drawbacks.

The scientists used a variety of techniques - including physiological stimuli and pharmacological treatments - to raise or lower their brain oxygen levels, said a release of the American Chemical Society.

The simple sensor quickly and reliably recorded real-time changes in these oxygen levels and can help provide a better understanding of the brain in health and disease, researchers said.

The proposed system could be used in conjunction with a wide range of microsensors and biosensors for monitoring small molecules in the brain

The study appeared in Analytical Chemistry, a fortnightly journal.

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