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Biomedical Optics & Medical Imaging

Ernst Bamberg Hot Topics presentation: Optogenetics and hybrid-optical control of cells

Presented at SPIE Photonics West 2013

13 February 2013, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201302.22

Ernst Bamberg, Max Planck Insitute (Germany) In his talk, "Optogenetics and hybrid-optical control of cells," Ernst Bamberg (Max Planck Institute) discusses optogenetics, a relatively new field that uses light to signal functional changes in the activity of individual neurons in living tissue. The cells of the neurons express a protein, channelrhodopsin, which acts to light gate ion channels. By either the absence or presence of light (or light of specific wavelengths) nerve cells can be inhibited from firing. This capability can be used to map the motor functionality of the brain or to control the functionality of other cells.

As examples, Bamberg shows that this technique can be used to activate cells in the optic nerve for those who suffer loss of sight, or can be used to stop and start a beating heart in a small animal.

Ernst Bamberg is Director of the Department of Biophysical Chemistry at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics.