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New dye could aid neurological research

New dye could aid neurological research
26th January 2012

The development of new florescent dyes that highlight activity in the brain could improve neurological research.

A study at the University of California has created the next generation of fast-acting dyes that optically highlight electrical activity in neuronal membranes and will allow scientists to decipher the differences between the interior and exterior of neurons.

The discovery is vital and will help health professionals learn how brain cells function and interact.

First author of the study, Evan W Miller, explained that currently the "most common" method to explain neuronal activity is to measure the movement of calcium ions into the cell.

However, this yields an "indirect measurement that misses activity", because it is unable to report real-time changes. 
The new dyes are capable of generating high-speed data by allowing dye to momentarily glow more brightly when neuronal firing occurs. This glow can then be recorded on a high-speed camera.

It is hoped that the study will yield further discoveries in both dementia and stroke research.

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