Optogenetics has just seen a breakthrough, as a LED wireless implant revolutionizes experiments on mice and successfully broadens the range of future possibilities for researchers worldwide. The essence of optogenetics implies the use of light in order to manipulate brains of varied test subjects.
By connecting wires to a specific region, scientists can send signals which release themselves through light and, thus, effectively activating the desired area within the mouse’s brain. It’s a long standing method of experimentation that has now seen vast improvement due to the developing of a more beneficial and practical device.
Assistant professor of electric engineering, Ana Poon, and her team at Stanford University, have successfully designed a tiny wireless implant that is placed directly into the test subject, stimulating their nerves, and cleverly using the mouse’s body as an energy source. There is no more need for multiple wires that would otherwise be detrimental and limiting to experiments.
The little device can subtly stimulate the nerve of a mouse’s brain, spinal cord or, depending on the researcher’s needs, their limbs, through the same light technology used before. However, now they have more freedom and can carefully observe or rouse the mice’s reactions through places previously unreachable by wires, such as tunnels or mazes.
According to lead researcher, Ana Poon, the tiny implant is highly customizable and flexible to the scientist’s needs, and can adapt flawlessly to a more varied types of experiments, as it’s much smaller and allows the subject to properly move around.
The technology used in optogenetics can be used in mice who underwent a genetic modification by deeming their brains vulnerable to manipulations via light. In order for the implant to work, they need to be placed in a room featuring the option of sending wireless radio frequencies that will send the signal to the small coil within the device.
The reported adaptability and customization of the LED wireless implant could open up numerous doorways for future researchers, that will shed the restricting wire technology used up until now. The subjects will be able to more freely and perform a series of more complex activities or process that were not so easily achievable before.
Researchers from Stanford University have taken optogenetics to the next level, by providing a new way of delivering wireless power directly into the brain of mice. According to Poon, this will enable laboratories to expand their areas or research and experiment surveillance, and hopefully, this will result in quicker and better results to benefit science as a whole.
Image source: spectrum.ieee.org