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Microscopic Implantable Sensors Measure Dopamine in Brain

Dopamine is a neural signaling molecule seemingly involved in nearly every aspect of the brain’s activity. Yet, there hasn’t been a practical way to monitor the long term levels of dopamine in lab animals, let alone in humans. The main problem is that sensors developed so far degrade in the brain within a matter of days. So while we know that dopamine is very important, we can’t identify what specific roles it plays in the development of many diseases, including depression, Parkinson’s, psychosis, and many others.

Now scientists at MIT are reporting on sensors so tiny that normal degradation processes don’t affect them. The sensors are about the size of neural cells, less than 10 µm in width. The immune system doesn’t seem to see them, as levels of attacking immune cells didn’t rise in mice implanted with the new devices when compared to a control group of animals.

Because the so-called micro-invasive probes (µIPs) are so small, groups of them can be implanted throughout the brain. As many as 16 have already been implanted into the brains of living mice and the sensors kept working and providing accurate results for more than a year.

To find out the chemistry and physics of how they work, the study has been made freely available by Nature at the link below.

Flashback: fMRI Can Visualize Dopamine Activity Directly in the Brain…

Study in Nature Communications Biology: Cellular-scale probes enable stable chronic subsecond monitoring of dopamine neurochemicals in a rodent model…

Via: MIT…



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