Sunday, August 29, 2010

University Develops Technology

Purdue University researchers at the Bindley Bioscience Center have developed a technology with the potential to quickly identify food-borne pathogens to better respond to emergencies and bioterrorist attacks. The researchers at the university have received a $1.3 million seed grant from NIH’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases to test the technology.

The technology creates a national identification system capable of correlating similar organisms identified at hospitals in the U.S. The technology works by creating a signature of each organism isolated from patients by using a laser to interrogate bacterial colonies and collect unique scatter fingerprint patterns that instantly identify each and every colony on a plate. The signatures are sent to a national biosecurity database network to link major hospitals around the country where the signatures can then be compared with other signatures.

“The project demonstrates the power of what can happen when you put university research teams together by linking engineering, pharmacy, food sciences, basic medical science, computer science, and biosecurity,” said Bindley Director Richard Kuhn. The technology initially will be implemented at a hospital microbiology laboratory at the West Virginia University Medical Center to do routine testing.

Purdue University also reports that a new biosensor developed at the university is able to measure whether neurons are performing correctly when communicating with other neurons. The development of the biosensor will enable researchers to test the effectiveness for new epilepsy or seizure treatments.

The nanosensor not only measures glutamate around neural cells, it can tell how those cells are releasing or taking up glutamate, a key to the cell’s health and activity. Previously, people were only getting glutamate indirectly or through huge invasive probes. With this newly developed sensor, researchers now can listen to glutamate signaling from the cells.

The firing of neurons is involved in every action or movement in a human body. Neurons work electrically, but ultimately communicate with each other through chemical neurotransmitters such as glutamate. One neuron will release glutamate to convey information to the next neuron’s cell receptors.

Once the message is delivered, neurons are supposed to reabsorb or clear out the glutamate signal. It is believed that when neurons release too much or too little glutamate, the signal is not able to clear properly and as a result, people are prone to neurological diseases. Researchers are looking for more information on how neurons work in order to create more effective treatments for neurological disorders.