An electrode that delivers specific neurotransmitters to nerve cells in the brain may herald breakthrough treatments for diseases such as Parkinson’s.
The study, published in the journal Nature Materials, has already led to the technology being adapted to treat hearing loss and epilepsy.
It works because only those cells that are sensitive to a specific neurotransmitter are activated by it, unlike current treatments that tend to activate all cells in the target area.
In the case of Parkinson’s, the disease is caused either by a lack of the neurotransmitter dopamine or the cellular receptors that respond to it.
In the case of deafness, the Swedish scientists demonstrated the delivery electrode by using it to control hearing in the brains of guinea pigs.
Says chief researcher Professor Agneta Richter-Dahlfors: ‘The ability to deliver exact doses of neurotransmitters opens completely new possibilities for correcting the signalling systems that are faulty in a number of neurological diseases.’