Using water molecules to unlock neurons' secrets

ScienceDaily | 12/11/2018 | Staff
A team of researchers at the Laboratory for fundamental BioPhotonics (LBP) within EPFL's School of Engineering (STI) has come up with a way to monitor changes in membrane potential and to observe ion fluxes by studying the behavior of the water molecules surrounding the membranes of the neurons. The researchers, who successfully tested their method on in vitro mouse neurons, have just published their findings in Nature Communications.

A better understanding of the electrical activity of neurons could provide insight into a number of processes taking place in our brains. For example, scientists could see whether a neuron is active or resting, or if it is responding to drug treatment. Up until now, the only way to monitor neurons was by injecting fluorophores into, or attaching electrodes onto, the part of the brain being studied -- but fluorophores can be toxic, and electrodes can damage the neurons.

LBP - Researchers - Way - Activity - Neurons

Recently, the LBP researchers developed a way of tracking electrical activity in neurons simply by looking at the interactions between water molecules and the neural membranes. "Neurons are surrounded by water molecules, which change orientation in the presence of an electric charge," says Sylvie Roke, director of the LBP. "When the membrane potential changes, the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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