The University of Brighton, UK, is developing a device aimed at helping scientists unravel mysteries of the human ageing process.

Their sensor will monitor levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species from cells and tissues, chemicals that damage cells and have been implicated in the ageing process.

‘The project aims to develop a microelectrode device that can be tailored for the simultaneous spatial and dynamic monitoring of various types of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS),’ said Dr Bhavik Patel, senior lecturer in the University’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, and project lead.

Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species

‘These sensors will be modified for the detection of various ROS/RNS. These chemicals are of specific interest as they play key biological roles. They have been implicated in the ageing process and are the basis of many theories associated with ageing. This device will be made to benefit researchers working on ageing and is anticipated to increase the impact of these studies.’

The molecules are also blamed for aiding the development of a host of diseases including diabetes, kidney failure, heart disease and cancer.

‘The ROS/RNS microelectrode will be tested on two applications associated with ageing. The first will be to characterise the changes in ROS/RNS levels over various regions of old and young isolated neurones. The second application will be to look at ROS/RNS changes in cell lines that enter senescence.’

The research project is expected to run until September 2014.