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Optogenetic: A new way to control body function through the switch of light

In Science on 07/05/2010 at 6:38 AM

Today, i decide to wake up at 6h30am in the morning to attend early lecture. It turns out more exciting than i thought πŸ™‚ For 10 minutes,my lecturer has talked about : optogenetics as a new and accuracy method to study function of different brain areas. And this is one of the coolest ideas i heard πŸ™‚ Image that you, one day, can command your pets to poop in your neighborhood yard (for revenge ?) by pressing a button in your dog control remote or discover the deep sea/dangerous area by controlling native animals through Xbox controller πŸ™‚

So how does it work ? Through brain researches, we know that neurons used chemical compounds (Neurotransmitters) to communicate with each others. For example: Acetylcholine, Adrenaline and Noradrenaline, these compounds will determine whenever neurons should “talk” to each other or not.Β  And to be able to produce these compounds, the cell will need to translate DNA sequences (Stored in its nucleus) into protein sequences which represent these neurotransmitters. They are kind of like money printing processes where you need to get money printing plate to be able to produce legitimate cash:-). So if you can modify DNA sequences to stop cells from producing these neurotransmitters or increase the production of other enzymes that kill these signals (All most compounds cell produce will need to get from DNA banks), the communication of this neurons region will be stopped ! Like shutting down face region so that no expressions: happy, sad or angry can be seen)

But how can we change DNA sequences into tiny/wienie cells ? Well, viruses are among excellent candidates to inject engineered DNA sequences into cells. (A good reason for the existence of viruses :-)) If we take some specific viruses which their activities changed during present of specific light color, we have our own behavior remote or optogenetic πŸ™‚ Of course, the mechanics of this method might be more complicated but this is what i understand about optogenetic. Here is an interesting Youtube video about this method:

So basically, the idea is to use light-sensitive viruses to control the protein synthesis within this mouse motor cortex.Therefore when a specific wave length (color) light switch on, it will alter the communication signalsΒ  between theses cells and changing mouse running behavior. Pretty good, eh ?

I, myself dream of someday will hold this remote in my hand πŸ˜‰ a

Or if you are a girl, you should consider to buy this product:

Men remote control