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Ultra-small analytical techniques applied to single cell neurochemistry

Final Activity Report Summary - NEUROANALYTCHEM (Ultrasmall analytical techniques applied to single cell neurochemistry)

The Marie Curie Chair was used to train new scientists and to develop several new analytical chemistry methods. Major progress was made in developing new methods of mass spectrometry imaging of lipids on single cells and to use this to understand the way by which cells use different lipids to control their function. Significant progress was also made in developing new electrochemical tools to measure neurotransmitters coming from single cells during cell-to-cell communication.

In a third area, new approaches to measure the levels of transmitters and metabolites in the dissected brains of fruit flies and also to directly measure the transmitter levels in the brain during function of the live fly have been developed and published. Our most recent new technology has been to develop a method we call electrochemical cytometry allowing us to measure the amounts of transmitters in single vesicles in a high-throughput manner so we can determine the levels in thousands of vesicles in one run taking only a few hours. This method is sensitive to 1800 molecules in a single vesicle.

This work opens the door for quantitative measurements of individual neuronal cells while they communicate with other cells in a network, and the vesicles they use to communicate with, in models of diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. It is analytical techniques like these that will be a part of future breakthroughs in these areas. During this three-year period published 30 peer-reviewed papers in highly respectable journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Analytical Chemistry and ACS Chemical Neuroscience as well as 4 invited papers/book chapters and the researcher gave 32 invited presentations on this work around the world.