Developing a novel biosensor for detection of neurochemicals in blood

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: School of Life Sciences

Abstract

The central aspect of neural communication in the central nervous system is chemical signalling involving amino acids and their derivatives. Amino acids glutamate and aspartate and the derivative N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), are present in high concentrations in the neurons and glial cells. Glutamate and NAA produce the largest peak in a proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) scan of a healthy human brain, and their levels are reduced in neuropathologies and psychotic disorders. It has been shown that in age-related neurodegenerative diseases, levels of these amino acids drop dramatically in the brain as they leak into the extra cellular space and into the bloodstream. These compounds can therefore be employed as biomarkers for neuronal health, as they provide insight into the extent of ischaemic damage or brain injury.
L-Asparte Oxidase (LAO) is the enzyme known to metabolise L-aspartate. LAO oxidises L-aspartate to iminoasparate, simultaneously producing H2O2. Because of substrate specificity, it can be used in conjunction with other enzymes in discriminating the presence of brain specific amino acids in the blood. Purified enzyme can be immobilised on the surface of the microelectrode, where the presence of H2O2 induces changes in the current which can be measured. The goal of the project is to integrate these enzymes into a microelectrode biosensor, that can detect and measure levels of neuroactive chemicals in vitro.
To date measurements are made only through proton MRS, or microdialysis and High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC); techniques which are both expensive and time consuming, and often produce signals that are contaminated by the presence of one or other amino acid because of their abundance. An electrochemical biosensor that can provide rapid measurement and directly give an indication of metabolic changes would potentially serve as a novel diagnostic tool for monitoring levels of amino acids in different disease conditions.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1782617 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 03/10/2016 04/05/2021 Aditi Kibe
 
Description Poster Presentation at University of Warwick SLS symposium March 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Poster presented as part of the School of Life Sciences student symposium. The symposium is attended by students and faculty across SLS. It is a good platform to present your work and get feedback.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Sarissa Biomedical Biosensor, SMARTChip and Probe workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop on the use of biosensors and probes organised by Sarissa Biomedical. Workshop involved demonstrations and talks by people from Sarissa Biomedical and people engaged in the use of the sensors and probes. Overall very useful and engaging.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop for Primary School children 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Workshop for Primary School children.
This was a voluntary activity.
A workshop to create interest in science and neurobiology was organised in Coventry Central library. Workshop organised by me and fellow post doc from the group. Children were given worksheets, drawings and puzzles to improve their understanding of the anatomy and functions of the brain. They were also shown videos about neurons and neural transmission. The workshop was well received and was followed by a discussion session in which students participated enthusiastically.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017