NWU student develops sensor to detect neurotransmitters

Koos Degenaar -- Mon, 09/21/2015 - 15:11

NWU student develops sensor to detect neurotransmitters

A master’s student at the Mafikeng Campus of the North-West University (NWU) has developed a sensor to detect electrochemical neurotransmitters in the human body.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that communicate information from the brain to the body. Ms Ntsoaki Mphuti, a second-year MSc student in the Chemistry Department, has fabricated a sensor from carbon nanotubes and metal oxides to detect neurotransmitters. The aim was to explore whether nanomaterial could detect the neurotransmitters, since human behaviour is regulated by the brain.    

The advantage of fabricating a sensor other than using any other analytical technique is that electrochemical sensors are cost effective; they provide real-time measurements and analyse biological and environmental substances in a very short time.

The end results of the research was that a sensitive and selective sensor was developed that was able to detect neurotransmitters. It is equally expected that the sensor will be used successfully to assay neurotransmitters in urine samples in the presence of other interfering species such as ascorbic and uric acids. The sensor will assist medical practitioners in monitoring neurotransmitters and the early detection of diseases which can be treated immediately.