Scientists have combined the powers of nanotechnology, optogenetics, and gene therapy to create a remote-controlled, wireless brain implant that can release drugs, viruses, or shine light with just a click of a button. According to the report in the July 14 Cell, senior authors John Rogers from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Michael R. Bruchas at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues implanted a microscopic probe into defined brain areas of freely moving mice. Using their programmable probe, they could stimulate animal movement, label neuronal circuits, and change reward-related behavior. In the future, these optofluidic devices could potentially combat disease by using light-activated release of pharmaceuticals. In the publication, the authors provide the blueprints for the implant, allowing other scientists to create their own and develop novel uses.
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Jeong JW, McCall JG, Shin G, Zhang Y, Al-Hasani R, Kim M, Li S, Sim JY, Jang KI, Shi Y, Hong DY, Liu Y, Schmitz GP, Xia L, He Z, Gamble P, Ray WZ, Huang Y, Bruchas MR, Rogers JA. Wireless Optofluidic Systems for Programmable In Vivo Pharmacology and Optogenetics. Cell. 2015 Jul 30;162(3):662-74. [Pubmed].