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Bonn researchers use light to make the heart stumble
Date:10/4/2010

m to find out, for instance, which areas of the hollow muscle are especially sensitive to electric disruptions.

But why not simply stimulate the heart muscle with electrodes in order to make the heart lose its rhythm? "That can be done as well," says Professor Sasse. " But this method has unwanted side effects: if the electric stimulation lasts longer than a few milliseconds, toxic gases are produced, and the pH value changes."

The consequences of a heart attack, which leads to permanent tissue damage, can of course only be studied in a very limited form when using short-term electric stimulation. Photostimulation is much more suitable: the cells will even withstand stimulations of several minutes at a time without problems.

Using channelrhodopsin in medical research is not fundamentally new, although so far it has mainly been used in neuroscience. For instance, scientists can use these light channels to direct the behavior of flies and mice - with nothing but blue light.


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Contact: Professor Dr. Philipp Sasse
philipp.sasse@uni-bonn.de
49-228-688-5212
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

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