Optogenetics is an exciting gene therapy technique which can render light activated ion flows across cell membranes. This is achieved via the genetic expression of light sensitive ion channels and pumps and has particular application in neuroscience and neuroprosthetics. By sensitizing nerve cells to light of particular wavelengths, it is possible to stimulate their activity with pulses of high intensity light.
The discovery of channelrhodopsin in 2003 created the field and led to many great discoveries in the neuroscience field. However, one of the key caveats with the technique has been the requirement of ultrabright optical stimulation. Typically optical irradiances of 1mW/mm2 is required on cells transfected with wild-type channelrhodopsin. When optical inefficiencies are taken into account, patterned sources with radiances in excess of 100mW/mm2 are required. This is an obstacle to compact optical neural stimulation equipment and translation towards neuroprosthetics.
In 2010, the OptoNeuro consortium was formed via a funding from the EU's Seventh Framework Programme addressing the ICT-2007.8.0 "Future and Emerging Technologies" programme. The project started on 1st October 2010. Our aim has been to provide a system scalable for applications in both basic neuroscience and neuroprosthesis. In particular, we envisage our optoelectronics to be used in a future optogenetic/optoelectronic retinal prosthesis for those blinded by the Retinitis Pigmentosa disease.
Project No: 249867
Action Duration: 2010 -- 2013
Ultrabright LED array
Stimulation of a single neuron
Group meeting at Scientifica headquarters in Uckfield, Sussex in 2013.
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