Detecting brain disorders in seconds

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Dopamine is a chemical that plays a vital role in diseases like Parkinson’s and depression. But monitoring a person’s dopamine levels can be a cumbersome process that involves complicated MRI testing. Now a group of researchers believe they have found a quicker way.

Statistics show that by the year 2020, nearly one million people in the US will have Parkinson’s disease. It is a difficult disease to diagnose and monitor.

“Dopamine measurement plays an important role for people suffering from Parkinson’s,” said Debashis Chanda, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida.

Too little dopamine has been associated with Parkinson’s and depression. But when it comes to detecting dopamine …

“The traditional methods are very hard for people because we have to send it to laboratories and they have to look at cultures and stuff like that and that takes a lot of time,” said Freya Mehta, Biomedical Sciences Undergraduate Student at the University of Central Florida.

Usually hours or even days. So Professor Chanda and his team developed the first- ever rapid detector for dopamine. It only requires a few drops of blood and it gives results in seconds. Using this chip, plasma is separated from the blood.

“And then when the plasma flows through that sodium oxide- coated nano structure surface that dopamine selectively binds or get captured by the surface,” Chanda explained.

Using an infrared light, researchers can measure how much dopamine is concentrated in the blood. This method can be very useful in determining whether a medication is effective.

Chanda said, “How do you adjust that person’s medication, depends on the dopamine level in the brain.”

Chanda says this is just the first step in giving people the ability to monitor their own brain activity: “Like the way you detect or monitor your blood sugar or blood glucose level.”

Professor Chanda’s research team is also using the same technology to perform experiment to detect viruses, like the dengue virus.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.