Revolutionary Optogenetic Technology

Modulating the nervous system to transform disease treatment

Optogenetic Technology

Optogenetics is a transformational technology that allows control of specific neurons and drives their activity. Using optogenetics, we are able to gain insights on how the nervous system functions in normal and diseased states.

Optogenetics requires two key components: A light-sensitive protein, or opsin, and light. Depending on the wavelength, light can either activate neurons with excitatory opsins, inhibit neurons with inhibitory opsins, or initiate cellular signaling cascades (OptoXR). Adjusting the location, strength and color of the light allows for great control of the proteins. The opsin toolbox thus provides great flexibility and specificity for modulating neuronal activity.

By activating or inhibiting individual circuits in the central and peripheral nervous systems, we can change the behavior, fundamental function, or a specific symptom of a disease. This understanding of the consequences of individual circuits on function leads to novel treatments and therapeutics.

Optogenetic Therapy

Using gene therapy and a light device, optogenetics provides unique specificity and efficacy in the treatment of disease, reducing or eliminating unwanted side effects.

Therapies to control neural circuits are already in use. Electrical stimulation for the treatment of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and other indications (“neurostimulation”) has opened up a new frontier for medicine. Despite the widespread use of this technology, there are still significant side effects. Non-specific electrical stimulation affects every fiber in a nerve bundle or cell in a brain region, not just the therapeutic target. The complexity of our nervous system limits the efficacy of such therapeutic routes. Optogenetics provides the necessary specificity to overcome this limitation – retaining efficacy, yet reducing or eliminating side effects by virtue of the combined selectivities of the gene therapy and illumination distribution. By transducing the specific circuit with an opsin and delivering light only to the desired region, a new optogenetic therapy is achieved. Using gene therapy and sophisticated illumination device design, such therapies are within our reach and hold the promise to transform neurological intervention.

Optogenetic Therapy

Using gene therapy and a light device, optogenetics provides unique specificity and efficacy in the treatment of disease, reducing or eliminating unwanted side effects.

Therapies to control neural circuits are already in use. Electrical stimulation for the treatment of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and other indications (“neurostimulation”) has opened up a new frontier for medicine. Despite the widespread use of this technology, there are still significant side effects. Non-specific electrical stimulation affects every fiber in a nerve bundle or cell in a brain region, not just the therapeutic target. The complexity of our nervous system limits the efficacy of such therapeutic routes. Optogenetics provides the necessary specificity to overcome this limitation – retaining efficacy, yet reducing or eliminating side effects by virtue of the combined selectivities of the gene therapy and illumination distribution. By transducing the specific circuit with an opsin and delivering light to only the desired region, a new optogenetic therapy is achieved. Using gene therapy and sophisticated illumination device design, such therapies are within our reach and hold the promise to transform neurological intervention.

Optogenetic Drug Discovery

New perspectives provided by optogenetics help us identify and develop better, circuit-specific drugs.

By mapping circuits that are responsible for specific neuropsychiatric disease symptoms, we are able to gain insights into the etiology of the disease and the cellular targets that provide therapeutic benefit. With these insights, we are able to discover novel drug targets that modulate these circuits, use circuit-based models to test drugs, and use our understanding of circuitry to perform more effective clinical trials, delivering the right drug to the right patient. Optogenetics facilitates new ways to approach drug development in the nervous system with the potential to treat any neurological disease.

Optogenetic Drug Discovery

New perspectives provided by optogenetics help us identify and develop better, circuit-specific drugs.

By mapping circuits that are responsible for specific neuropsychiatric disease symptoms, we are able to gain insights into the etiology of the disease and the cellular targets that provide therapeutic benefit. With these insights, we are able to discover novel drug targets that modulate these circuits, use circuit-based models to test drugs, and use our understanding of circuitry to perform more effective clinical trials, delivering the right drug to the right patient. Optogenetics facilitates new ways to approach drug development in the nervous system with the potential to treat any neurological disease.

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