Optogenetics – Control Brain Cells with Light



Optogenetics, can be simply called controlling a specific brain neurons with light! Optogenetics is a part of neuro science. As indicated by its name, it is a combination of genetics and optics, where the combined techniques regulate, monitor, control and influence the neurons.  Optogenetics is an effective solution to control the behavior of an individual by shifting or varying the activities of the brain neurons. Light is used to regulate and control the neurons which genetically carry sensitivity to light. The events and activities of the neurons in the brain tissues are monitored along with a precise measurement of the effects of the light, the manipulations and the outcomes.

Evolution of optogenetics 

Optogenetics has been an interesting arena for researchers for its immense scope to explore and bring out a dramatic therapy / approach in curing the physical as well as psychological exam. The initiation was made at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the city of New York as well as at the Berkley’s University. Since this approaching of using light sensitivity upheld complex components and multiple approach, it wasn’t received well in the other research centres. However, in the year 2005, a comprehensive and single component approach was reported, which was extensive recognized and rewarded.

The scope of Optogenetics in the field of science made is immensely popular. In a few years, Optogenetics was declared as ‘Method of the Year’ across all engineering and science fields in an interdisciplinary journal as well as a marked as ‘breakthrough’ in an academic journal.

A Science beyond Neuro-Science

Human brain is a complex organ, beyond control. It is an intricate organ with billions of neurons intertwined with each other, carrying different characteristics, patterns, messages, signals, etc. Due to the in-depth complexity, a comprehensive grasp about this organ seems to be difficult. Specific patterns or signal affect the mood, memories, emotions and even cause physical damages.  The physical features of brain influence the psychiatric health of an individual, causing irreversible damage. Taking control over physical brain by sensitizing the cells helps recovering from many disorders.

Control and regulation of a set of defined or predetermined events with a specific set of cells and tissues at defined time accompanied by a great level of precision is an extreme excellence, which is totally beyond the appreciation of biology real and the neuroscience. The importance of an activity in a cell is met only when the related events occur within the cell, within the tissues, rest of the tissues, etc. A delay, even by a few milliseconds may dramatically reverse or alter the effects of the signals and affect the central nervous system.

Applications of Optogenetics

Currently, Optogenetics has more potential in resolving the psychiatric conditions caused due to improper brain signals or circuits.

  • Brain mapping and behavior
  • Mapping the neural circuits to detect abnormality in the brain functions, for instance, fear, depression, etc
  • Psychiatric brain conditions
  • Learning about cell culture, network analysis

Currently, Optogenetics throw a positive light on treating the psychological conditions and physical conditions such as depression, chronic stress, Parkinson disease, epilepsy, substance addiction or abuse, etc.  Parkinson disease, characterized by altered motions and disturbance in the motor control circuits can be stabilized with Deep Brain Stimulation. Similarly type of approach is also applied to reduce the recurrence and intensity of seizures in case of epilepsy, which is caused by inappropriate signals in the brain transmitters. Lately, it is also used a therapy to combat the sleep disorder.

Provision of immense opportunities for extensive research in the field of neuroscience backed by possibilities to cure the brain disorders, the bio-medical research carries a promising future with potential for curing alarming conditions.

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