Advanced sensor to unlock the secrets of the brain—24 April 2018

Australian Research Council (ARC) funded researchers have announced the development of a state-of-the-art sensor that can for the first time detect signalling molecules, called cytokines, which operate in the living brain.

Cytokines in the brain are secreted by glia cells that make up nearly 90% of all brain cells.  Cytokines play a central role in controlling mood and cognition and may also contribute to a number of mental health disorders.

“What we’ve developed is the first sensor capable of monitoring the release of these cytokines in the brain,” says lead researcher Kaixin Zhang, a PhD candidate at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) at Macquarie University.

Professor Ewa Goldys, CNBP Deputy Director, and a senior researcher on the project, notes that brain functionality is an extremely complex area where scientific knowledge is still limited.

“Our research in understanding cytokine secretion, neural circuits and how these two work together is essential to improving our understanding of the brain, in health and disease,” says Professor Goldys.

“The key benefit of our new sensor is that it enables the detection of cytokine release precisely as it happens, in living, naturally behaving animals, which is the key step on this discovery journey.

“This is a really fantastic example of the work which we do at the CNBP, which is all about creating state-of-the-art sensing tools that can measure the inner workings of the living organism.” 

Media issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics.

 

Image: Kaixin Zhang, a PhD candidate at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) at Macquarie University.
Source: Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, April 24, 2018