Navigation Links
Stimulating brain cells with light

For the time being, this is basic research but the long term objective is to find new ways of treating Parkinson's disease. This increasingly common disease is caused by degeneration of the brain cells producing signal substance dopamine.

Many experiments have been conducted on both animals and humans, transplanting healthy nerve cells to make up for the lack of dopamine, but it is difficult to study what happens to the transplant.

"We don't know how the new nerve cells behave once they have been transplanted into the brain. Do they connect to the surrounding cells as they should, and can they function normally and produce dopamine as they should? Can we use light to reinforce dopamine production? These are the issues we want to investigate with optogenetics", says Professor Merab Kokaia.

Optogenetics allows scientists to control certain cells in the brain using light, leaving other cells unaffected. In order to do this, the relevant cells are equipped with genes for a special light-sensitive protein. The protein makes the cells react when they are illuminated with light from a thin optic fibre which is also implanted in the brain. The cells can then be "switched on" when they are illuminated.

"If we get signals as a response to light from the host brain, we know that they come from the transplanted cells since they are the only ones to carry the light-sensitive protein. This gives us a much more specific way of studying the brain's reactions than inserting an electrode, which is the current method.

With an electrode, we do not know whether the electric signals that are detected come from "new" or "old" brain cells", explains Merab Kokaia.

The work will be conducted on laboratory rats modelling Parkinson's disease. The transplanted cells will be derived from skin from an adult human and will have been "reprogrammed" as nerve cells.

Merab Kokaia will be collaborating with neuro-researchers Malin Parmar and Olle Lindvall on the project.

The three Lund researchers have received a grant of USD 75 000 from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, started by actor Michael J. Fox and dedicated to Parkinson's research.

The light-sensitive protein is obtained from a bacterium, which uses light to gain energy.

Since it is not a human protein, the safety checks will be extra strict if the method is to be used on humans.

"We know that this is long term research. But the methodology is interesting and it will be exciting to see what we can come up with," says Merab Kokaia.

Contact: Merab Kokaia
Lund University

Related medicine news :

1. Mild increases in thyroid-stimulating hormone not harmful in the elderly
2. Study Suggests Vaccine May Help Kids With Brain Cancer
3. Epilepsy Leads to More Brain Abnormalities Over Time
4. UCLA Brain Injury Research Center gets NCAA funding for research on sports concussions
5. Why is traumatic brain injury increasing among the elderly?
6. Brain Falters Near End of Life, but Games, Puzzles Might Slow Decline
7. Dental X-Rays May Be Linked to Benign Brain Tumors
8. Nonsurgical Method to Measure Brain Pressure Shows Promise
9. Researchers Map Brain Regions Linked to Intelligence
10. Football-related catastrophic brain injuries on the rise
11. Brain Tumor Vaccine Shows Promise in Early Trial
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... According to an article ... the way that they are handling security in light of the recent terrorist attacks ... in an attempt to stop an attack from reaching U.S. soil. Especially around special ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Lizzie’s Lice Pickers just ... is offering customers 10% off of their purchase of lice treatment product. In addition, ... price. According to a company spokesperson. “Finding lice is a sure way to ruin ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... well-respected Microsoft Dynamics SL User Group (MSDSLUG). Recognized as Microsoft’s official group for ... of Microsoft Dynamics SL software users, partners, industry experts and representatives. Intellitec Solutions’ ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... The men and ... nonprofit healthcare organizations in the country. They have overseen financial turnarounds, shown commitment ... advance the healthcare industry as a whole through their advocacy and professional efforts. ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Inevitably when people think ... customers choose to buy during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday massage chair ... to search the Internet high and low to find the best massage chair deals, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... Juntendo universitetssjukhus ser potential att använda ... magnetresonansbilder (MR-bilder) för patienter med multipel ... ett forskningsavtal med SyntheticMR AB för att ... forskningsprojekt på sjukhuset. Med SyMRI kan man ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ... European Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM) Market: ... Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities"  report to their ... has announced the addition of the  ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... DUBLIN , November 26, 2015 ... of the "Self Administration of High Viscosity ... ) has announced the addition of ... report to their offering. --> ... the addition of the "Self Administration of ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: