Modified Optogenetics Approach Is Promising For Stroke Recovery Research

A team of researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine (Atlanta, GA) has modified optogenetics (the application of light to control cell activity via encoded genes) to yield an approach they call “optochemogenetics,” which enables noninvasive, selective brain cell stimulation. The work could lead to a way to noninvasively control transplanted neural progenitor cells with light to restore lost functions in stroke recovery.

In a mouse model of stroke, lead researchers Shan Ping Yu, MD, Ph.D., and Ling Wei, MD of the Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology worked to figure out how to selectively stimulate brain cells noninvasively.

To do so, they teamed up with Jack Tung, Ph.D., Ken Berglund, Ph.D., and Robert Gross, MD of the Department of Neurosurgery and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, who had created “luminopsins,” engineered proteins that are both light-sensitive and generate their own light when provided with a chemical called coelenterazine (CTZ).

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