Researchers Control Rodent Depression With Optogenetics

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Imagine if you could switch your depression off like a light. Researchers did it in mice. They used optogenetics to gain more insight into how brain circuits work in cases of depression, and discovered that different types of stress trigger different activity patterns in the same brain circuit.

Two papers published recently in the journal Nature describe how neuronal activity in specific brain circuits in mice can be turned on and off to control depression-like behavior. Both studies used optogenetics, a research method pioneered by one of our customers, Dr. Karl Deisseroth that combines fiber optics and genetic engineering to control the activity of specific neurons. Dr. Deisseroth, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at Stanford University contributed to both papers. Continue reading “Researchers Control Rodent Depression With Optogenetics” »

Science Events: The Brain Institute at the University of Utah March Symposium – Imaging Neurons

On Monday, March 1, the Brain Institute at the University of Utah hosts its March Symposium – Imaging Neurons. We are pleased to report that two of the neuroscientists speaking at the event are MBF Bioscience customers. Dr. Erik Jorgensen, a biology professor at the University of Utah will discuss fluorescence electron microscopy. Dr. Karl Deisseroth, a professor of bioengineering and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, will present developments in optogenetics, a new field that involves observing neurons through a combination of genetic engineering and light.

Who: Dr. Karl Deisseroth and Dr. Erik Jorgensen

What: The Brain Institute at the University of Utah March Symposium – Imaging Neurons

When: Monday, March 1, 2010, 2-6pm

Where: Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Marcia & John Price Building, 410 Campus Center Dr., Salt Lake City, Utah

{Image courtesy of The Brain Institute at the University of Utah}

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Stanford’s Dr. Karl Deisseroth Featured in Wired Magazine

Optogenetics is a fairly new scientific field that combines optical stimulation with genetic engineering. According to a recent article in Wired magazine, neuroscientist, psychologist, and MBF Bioscience customer Dr. Karl Deisseroth and his team of researchers at Stanford University are making major optogenetic advancements – the kind that might lead to a cure for Parkinson’s Disease.

It all began in 1979, when one of the discoverers of DNA’s double helix, Francis Crick, acknowledged the need to “control neurons of only one cell type in one specific location.” The solution?  Light. The only genes known to respond to light were the ones found in plants. In the 1990s, German biologist Peter Hegemann was researching the affect of light on algae. When exposed to light, the algae cells moved.

Ten years ago, UC San Diego biologist Roger Tsien acquired some of Hegemann’s light-sensitive genes, and inserted them into a frog egg. Stimulated by a beam of light, the egg responded.

Enter Dr. Deisseroth. Aided by a team of graduate students, Dr. Deisseroth set out to discover whether or not “misbehaving cells” in the brains of patients suffering from depression or Parkinson’s could be “tagged genetically and controlled with light.” They were able to successfully control the movements of worms, make a mouse run in circles, and are currently carrying out research on primates.

Read the full article at wired.com to find out more about the history of optogenetics and its relevance to the treatment of Parkinson’s.