Graphene aptasensor bioelectronics: a neural interface for neurotransmission probing in neurological disorders
Neurological disorders are a group of pathological conditions characterized by altered neuronal communication and impaired circuit and behavioral functions. Although multiple factors may cause different neurological disorders, altered neurotransmission is a shared mechanistic link. But how does the brain orchestrate simultaneous streams of several chemical neurotransmitters and electrical events to guide behavior and encode the right message? And how does this message becomes distorted in brain disorders? Unfortunately, we are still far from answers because we lack appropriate tools for probing in vivo neurotransmission and decoding brain chemical messages. Despite significant progress in monitoring brain electrical activity, sensing in vivo neurochemical dynamics in real-time remains a major challenge. Current enzyme-based or voltammetry/amperometry approaches lack adequate selectivity, sensitivity, or spatiotemporal resolution for neural sensing, thus hampering progress towards understanding brain function. By combining RNA/DNA aptamer-based biosensors or “aptasensors” (CSIC, Spain), graphene field-effect transistors, and biosensors prototyping (INL, Spain/Portugal), with functional neurophysiological experiments (UM, Portugal), we will develop a novel bioelectronics neural interface to record not only in vivo brain electrical activity but also five different neurotransmitters simultaneously, with physiological spatiotemporal resolution. Novel technologies that can probe the brain’s language with more fidelity, such as the one we propose here, can have wide scientific community dissemination, be used as the backbone for next-generation brain-machine interfaces, and enable more advanced neuromorphic computers and machines. Ultimately this technology will help to answer some fundamental questions regarding brain function in health and disease and allow inquiring about the underlying principles of the neuronal code supporting behavior.
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La Caixa Foundation – Health Research Programme