Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simulating new treatment for retinal degeneration

Date:
November 27, 2013
Source:
Universitaet Tübingen
Summary:
For a few years, optogenetics has been seen as a very promising therapy for progressive blindness, for example when it is a result of retinal degeneration. In order to further develop this therapeutic approach, researchers have developed a computer model that simulates optogenetic vision.

Human vision deals well with extreme contrasts of light levels in the environment – we can see in anything from weak starlight to glaring sunshine. The new study by Mutter and Münch shows the range of light intensity within which blindness can be treated using optogenetic methods. The process introduces light-sensitive proteins into the retina. Right: a cross-section of the retina, the different cell layers shown in different colors.
Credit: Moon by John French, Abrams Planetarium. Image of retina by Hartwig Seitter © AG Münch, University Tübingen

For a few years now, optogenetics has been seen as a very promising therapy for progressive blindness, for example when it is a result of retinal degeneration. In order to further develop this therapeutic approach, Marion Mutter and project leader Dr. Thomas Münch of the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (BCCN) at the University of Tübingen have developed a computer model that simulates optogenetic vision. The research has been published in the November 27 issue of PLOS ONE.

Related Articles


Retinitis Pigmentosa is a form of retinal degeneration in which the photoreceptors in the eye die off. In order to counteract the accompanying loss of light perception, light-sensitive proteins known as channelrhodopsins are introduced into the retina using an optogenetic procedure. Every cell that contains channelrhodopsins can be activated by exposure to light. After optogenetic treatment, neighboring cells can take over the lost functions of the photoreceptors. This procedure has already been successful in restoring vision in mice. Thus, in the last few years, the foundation has been laid for using optogenetics to treat blindness.

However, the method has its limits. Human vision normally deals well with extreme contrasts of light levels in the environment -- we are able to see in anything from weak starlight to glaring sunshine. In contrast, 'optogenetic vision' with channelrhodopsins would only work in the very brightest sunlight -- at least with the variants of channelrhodopsin that have been developed so far.

Improving the characteristics of channelrhodopsins is something to be hoped for, above all from the point of view of developing potential future applications in humans. The researchers developed and used a computer model to investigate how to achieve these improvements. This model makes it possible to assess how well different variants of channelrhodopsin would support restoring a sense of vision. "When one of these molecules is activated by light, it cycles through a defined set of states which ultimately determine the light response of the treated eye," explains Marion Mutter. Previously, improvements to channelrhodopsin were mainly pursued to carry out research into basic neurobiological questions. "Our results show that optogenetic vision would benefit from completely different improvements which have so far been overlooked," Marion Mutter and Thomas Münch say.

What effects would these improvements have on the sense of vision? "According to our calculations, it should be possible to see in brightness conditions that are one hundred times dimmer than what would currently be possible," explains Thomas Münch. According to his estimates, this would allow patients treated with optogenetic techniques to be able to see not only in sunlight, but also in a well-lit room. "At these brightness levels we reach the biophysical limits of what is possible with classic channelrhodopsin molecules," says Münch. "However, in our study we could also show why there are these limits, and so we provide a direction for novel types of improvements in the future."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Marion Mutter, Thomas A. Münch. Strategies for Expanding the Operational Range of Channelrhodopsin in Optogenetic Vision. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (11): e81278 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081278

Cite This Page:

Universitaet Tübingen. "Simulating new treatment for retinal degeneration." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127225344.htm>.
Universitaet Tübingen. (2013, November 27). Simulating new treatment for retinal degeneration. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127225344.htm
Universitaet Tübingen. "Simulating new treatment for retinal degeneration." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127225344.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
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