Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stimulating brain cells with light

Date:
October 26, 2012
Source:
Lund University
Summary:
Introducing a light-sensitive protein in transgenic nerve cells ... transplanting nerve cells into the brains of laboratory animals ... inserting an optic fibre in the brain and using it to light up the nerve cells and stimulate them into releasing more dopamine to combat Parkinson's disease. These things may sound like science fiction, but they are soon to become a reality in a research laboratory in Sweden.

Introducing a light-sensitive protein in transgenic nerve cells ... transplanting nerve cells into the brains of laboratory animals ... inserting an optic fibre in the brain and using it to light up the nerve cells and stimulate them into releasing more dopamine to combat Parkinson's disease. These things may sound like science fiction, but they are soon to become a reality in a research laboratory at Lund University in Sweden.

Related Articles


For the time being, this is basic research but the long term objective is to find new ways of treating Parkinson's disease. This increasingly common disease is caused by degeneration of the brain cells producing signal substance dopamine.

Many experiments have been conducted on both animals and humans, transplanting healthy nerve cells to make up for the lack of dopamine, but it is difficult to study what happens to the transplant.

"We don't know how the new nerve cells behave once they have been transplanted into the brain. Do they connect to the surrounding cells as they should, and can they function normally and produce dopamine as they should? Can we use light to reinforce dopamine production? These are the issues we want to investigate with optogenetics," says Professor Merab Kokaia.

Optogenetics allows scientists to control certain cells in the brain using light, leaving other cells unaffected. In order to do this, the relevant cells are equipped with genes for a special light-sensitive protein. The protein makes the cells react when they are illuminated with light from a thin optic fibre which is also implanted in the brain. The cells can then be "switched on" when they are illuminated.

"If we get signals as a response to light from the host brain, we know that they come from the transplanted cells since they are the only ones to carry the light-sensitive protein. This gives us a much more specific way of studying the brain's reactions than inserting an electrode, which is the current method. With an electrode, we do not know whether the electric signals that are detected come from "new" or "old" brain cells," explains Merab Kokaia.

The work will be conducted on laboratory rats modelling Parkinson's disease. The transplanted cells will be derived from skin from an adult human and will have been "reprogrammed" as nerve cells. Merab Kokaia will be collaborating with neuro-researchers Malin Parmar and Olle Lindvall on the project. The three Lund researchers have received a grant of USD 75 000 from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, started by actor Michael J. Fox and dedicated to Parkinson's research.

The light-sensitive protein is obtained from a bacterium, which uses light to gain energy. Since it is not a human protein, the safety checks will be extra strict if the method is to be used on humans.

"We know that this is long term research. But the methodology is interesting and it will be exciting to see what we can come up with," says Merab Kokaia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lund University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Lund University. "Stimulating brain cells with light." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121026084356.htm>.
Lund University. (2012, October 26). Stimulating brain cells with light. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121026084356.htm
Lund University. "Stimulating brain cells with light." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121026084356.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins