A brain fluid leak detection device has been developed by a research team at University College London.
The device, developed by Dr Chris Fennell, a professor of electrical engineering at UCL, detects leakage of brain fluids within a sealed container, allowing a person to monitor their brain fluid levels without having to use an airtight container.
The new device uses a device that contains a water-soluble, gel-like material that is applied to a skin layer to seal the sealed container.
It is able to detect a change in brain fluid from a person without having any symptoms of brain damage.
The discovery, which is reported in the journal Scientific Reports, opens the way to a number of new treatments for brain injuries and provides new tools to detect leakage in the brain, says Dr Fenn, who is also a research fellow at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering at UCR.
It is an exciting time to be a researcher and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to work with a team that can do something that could improve people’s lives, he adds.
“The fact that we are able to solve this problem at this time is a huge step in the right direction, and this could be a huge leap forward in the future,” Dr Finnell says.
He says that he is hopeful that the research could lead to new treatments and to a wider understanding of brain injury.
“What we have done is the right thing, and now we need to move forward and apply it to other people,” he says.
“This research is not the end of the story but it is the beginning of the next.
We need to start with the right people, and then apply it in the correct way.”
The device works by placing a small amount of the gel gel on the skin, and as the gel melts the water inside the container dissolves the gel, releasing a tiny amount of fluid into the environment.
This fluid is absorbed by the skin and is detected by a small sensor, which the device attaches to the skin.
Once the sensor is attached, it transmits a pulse to the device and a signal is sent to the brain which then reacts by producing a chemical response to the gel.
The researchers hope that the gel will be useful for assessing a range of conditions from brain damage to brain swelling.
“When you put the gel in a seal and seal it, then when you get the gel out and then you put it back in the seal and the seal is broken, you see that it dissolves and that the skin gets a little bit of the water,” Dr Rohan Rao, a lecturer in electrical engineering and computer science at UCC, says.
But the gel does not seem to do any damage to the sealed seal, he says, adding that the researchers would like to see other sensors in future.
“We’re hoping that other sensors could detect changes in brain fluids that are associated with these types of conditions,” Dr Rao says.
The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council.
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