Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Light switch inside brain: Laser controls individual nerve cells in mouse

Date:
January 18, 2013
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
Activating and deactivating individual nerve cells in the brain is something many neuroscientists wish they could do, as it would help them to better understand how the brain works. Scientists have now developed an implant that is able to genetically modify specific nerve cells, control them with light stimuli, and measure their electrical activity all at the same time.

The polymer-based neural probe with platinum electrodes for the measurement of electrical signals, an injection channel for fluids (rectangular openings), and a waveguide for optical stimulation
Credit: IMTEK/University of Freiburg

Activating and deactivating individual nerve cells in the brain is something many neuroscientists wish they could do, as it would help them to better understand how the brain works.

Scientists in Freiburg and Basel, Switzerland, have developed an implant that is able to genetically modify specific nerve cells, control them with light stimuli, and measure their electrical activity all at the same time. This novel 3-in-1 tool paves the way for completely new experiments in neurobiology, also at Freiburg's new Cluster of Excellence BrainLinks-BrainTools.

Birthe Rubehn and her colleagues from the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) and the Bernstein Center of the University of Freiburg as well as the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel describe the prototype of their implant in the journal Lab on a Chip. They report that initial experiments in which they implanted prototypes into mice were successful: The team was able to influence the activity of nerve cells in the brain in a controlled manner by means of laser light pulses.

The team used an innovative genetic technique that makes nerve cells change their activity by shining different colored lights on them. In optogenetics, genes from certain species of algae are inserted into the genome of another organism, for instance a mouse. The genes lead to the inclusion of light-sensitive pores for electrically charged particles into a nerve cell's membrane. These additional openings allow neuroscientists to control the cells' electrical activity.

However, only the new implant from Freiburg and Basel makes this principle actually practicable. The device, at its tip only a quarter of a millimeter wide and a tenth of a millimeter thick, was constructed on the basis of polymers, special plastics whose safety for implantation into the nervous system has been proven.

Unlike probes developed so far, it is capable of injecting substances necessary for genetic modification, emitting light for the stimulation of the nerve cells, and measuring the effect through various electrical contacts all at once. Besides optimizing the technique for production, the scientists want to develop a second version whose injection channel dissolves over time, reducing the implant's size even further.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Birthe Rubehn, Steffen B. E. Wolff, Philip Tovote, Andreas Lüthi, Thomas Stieglitz. A polymer-based neural microimplant for optogenetic applications: design and first in vivo study. Lab on a Chip, 2013; DOI: 10.1039/C2LC40874K

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Light switch inside brain: Laser controls individual nerve cells in mouse." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130118111557.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2013, January 18). Light switch inside brain: Laser controls individual nerve cells in mouse. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130118111557.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Light switch inside brain: Laser controls individual nerve cells in mouse." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130118111557.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is It a Plane? No, It's a Hoverbike

Is It a Plane? No, It's a Hoverbike

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) — UK-based Malloy Aeronautics is preparing to test a manned quadcopter capable of out-manouvering a helicopter and presenting a new paradigm for aerial vehicles. A 1/3-sized scale model is already gaining popularity with drone enthusiasts around the world, with the full-sized manned model expected to take flight in the near future. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — China's energy revolution could do more harm than good for the environment, despite the country's commitment to reducing pollution and curbing its carbon emissions. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Former TSA X-Ray Scanners Easily Tricked To Miss Weapons

Former TSA X-Ray Scanners Easily Tricked To Miss Weapons

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — Researchers found the scanners could be duped simply by placing a weapon off to the side of the body or encasing it under a plastic shield. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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