Cell based biosensors offer the capability for quickly detecting chemical and biological agents with high sensitivity in a wide spectrum. Membrane excitability in cells plays a key role in modulating the electrical activity due to chemical agents. However, the complexity of these signals makes the interpretation of the cellular response to a chemical agent rather difficult. It is possible to determine a frequency spectrum also known as the signature pattern vector (SPV) for a given chemical agent through analysis of the power spectrum of the cell signal. I will describe a system for the measurement of extracellular potentials from live cells isolated onto micromachined planar microelectrode arrays. Fast Fourier and wavelet transformation techniques are used to extract information related to the frequency of firing and response times from the extracellular potential. Quantitative dose response curves and response times are obtained using local time domain characterization techniques.

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