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“Brain functions, behaviors, and emotions are freely regulated by irradiating cells with light” – Sciencetimes

The research team led by Chang-Jun Lee, director of the Cognitive and Sociality Research Center at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) and Won-Do Huh, a professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), developed Opto-V-Trap, an optogenetic technology that regulates brain functions and behaviors by applying light stimulation to specific nerve cells on the 1st. -vTrap) was developed.

Brain activity is regulated by sending and receiving signals between brain cells such as nerve cells, and this action is achieved through the secretion of neurotransmitters contained in ‘vesicles’ within the brain cells.

The vesicle, a small stalk-shaped structure with a diameter of 50 nm (nanometer = 1 billionth of a meter) surrounded by an inner cell membrane, is the commander of brain activity.

To directly control the release of neurotransmitters, the research team applied a technology that instantly creates a trap inside when light is irradiated to the cell.

When light (blue light) is applied to a cell or tissue, the photoreceptor proteins in the vesicle are agglomerated and the vesicle is trapped in the trap, and neurotransmitter secretion is also suppressed.

This technology freely regulates brain activity by directly controlling the secretion of signaling substances from vesicles, and this technology can be applied to various types of brain cells at any time.

Existing methods showed limitations in their use, such as changing the acidity of the surrounding cell environment or causing other unwanted stimuli.

The research team confirmed the fact that not only brain cell signaling but also memory, emotion, and behavior can be controlled through animal experiments.

The research team expects that this technology will be useful for elucidating the principle of complex interactions between various parts of the brain and studying the effects of each type of brain cell type on brain function.

Chang-Jun Lee, head of the research center, said, “It can be used not only for brain cells but also for various cells, so its application is endless. “He said.

The results of this study were published at 1 am on the 1st in the neuroscience journal Neuron (IF: 17.173).

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