Optogenetics is a method that uses light to selectively regulate molecular events in living cells and organisms. Cell behavior is affected by the change of shape of genetically encoded proteins in the presence of light. For example, the membrane tension of excitable cells can be changed by this method. Optogenetic neuronused to control them. It is possible to control individual neurons in living tissue by creating photosensitive ion channels in genetically modified cells. Optogenetic methods can also be used for optical monitoring of neuronal activity and for regulating the biochemistry of non-neuronal cells. But the term usually refers to the optical control of genetically marked neurons. Optogenetics was named the technique of the year by the journal Nature Methods in 2010.

history

The idea of ​​using light for the selective control of neuron activity was put forward by Francis Crick, one of the discoverers of DNA, in 1999. Light-assisted control of genetically targeted rhodopsin-sensitive neurons was first reported in 2002. In the study by Boris Zemelman and Gero Miesenböck, fruit fly rhodopsin was transferred to mammalian neuron culture. Since 2004, researchers have developed organic photo-switches (reversible compounds). Peter Hegemann and Georg Nagel transplanted light-sensitive genes from green algae into frog eggs. As a result of their work, they found the first generally applicable optogenetic tool. In 2005, Susana Lima and Miesenböck were able to control animal behavior with genetically targeted P2X2 photostimulation. Another study in 2005hippocampal neurons and spinal cord circuits in developing intact chicken embryos could be controlled with canalrhodopsin-2. It may be possible to increase cognitive performance with optogenetics. In one experiment, object tracking performance was improved by activating a certain area in the frontal lobes of monkeys.

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Advantages of Optogenetics

Optogenetics provides the opportunity to intervene in the neuron with millisecond precision. Traditional genetic manipulations take hours or days to affect the cell. To keep up with rapid biological information processing, millisecond precision is essential. Thus, the cause-effect relationship of specific action potentials in determined neurons can be examined. These investigations are necessary to decipher the neural code . Rapid light-activated channels, pumps, and enzymes are major tools of optogenetics. Fiberoptic coupled diode technology is used to deliver light to the brain cells of living animals. Optical fiber or LEDs are inserted into the skull to reach the superficial parts. For deeper brain areas, implanted optical fiber is used.

Clinical Use

Optpgenetics is used to study how specific cell types contribute to certain functions in living things. It may be helpful in understanding the mechanisms of diseases and problems such as Parkinson’s disease, autism, schizophrenia, drug addiction, anxiety, and depression. With the techniques used in optogenetics, epileptic seizures can be stopped immediately with a light beam, and in Parkinson’s disease, sleeping cells can be stimulated to improve movements. Although it is not yet safe for use in humans, it may become a powerful tool in treatment in the future.

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