Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Light in sight

08.05.2015

Scientists from the Universities of Bern in Switzerland and Göttingen in Germany have succeeded in restoring vision to blind mice. They've developed a molecular light switch as a potential therapy for acquired blindness.

Hereditary blindness caused by a progressive degeneration of the light-sensing cells in the eye, the photoreceptors, affects millions of people worldwide. Although the light-sensing cells are lost, cells in deeper layers of the retina, which normally cannot sense light, remain intact.


The retina of a blind mouse treated with the new approach: A «light antenna» has been attached to the red cells.

Sonja Kleinlogel

Scientists from Bethe Universities of Bern, Switzerland, and Göttingen, Germany, now introduced a new light-sensing protein into the surviving retina cells, thus turning them into «replacement photoreceptors». The results were published in PLoS Biology.

«The question was: Can we design light-activatable proteins that gate specific signaling pathways in specific cells?», Dr. Sonja Kleinlogel, corresponding author of the paper whose research group is based at the University of Bern, says.

«In other words, can the natural signaling pathways of the target cells be retained and just modified in a way to be turned on by light instead of a neurotransmitter released from a preceding neuron?»

The scientists molecularly modified the cells that normally would have received direct information from the photoreceptors in a way that they reacted to light stimuli instead of chemical signals, thus turning them into replacement photoreceptors. Integrating a new «light antenna» into the surviving cells has the advantage that signal computation of the retina is maximally utilized.

«Using optical imaging of neuronal activity in the treated mice, we showed that these replacement photoreceptors were able to activate the visual cortex – the part of the cortex that analyzes visual signals – more strongly again», co-authors Prof. Dr. Siegrid Löwel and Dr. Justyna Pielecka-Fortuna, neuroscientists at the University of Göttingen, say.

The result: The mice were able to see under daylight conditions, react to visual stimuli and learn visually triggered behaviors. «The new therapy can potentially restore sight in patients suffering from any kind of photoreceptor degeneration», Dr. Kleinlogel explains.

According to her, the major improvement of the new approach is that patients should be able to see under normal daylight conditions without the need for light intensifiers or image converter goggles. «However, it will take at least another two or three years before the new light antenna can be tested in the clinical setting», she adds.

Furthermore, the novel principle opens a whole palette of new possibilities to potentially treat conditions such as pain, depression and epilepsy.

Publication details:

Van Wyk M, Pielecka-Fortuna J, Löwel S & Kleinlogel S. Restoring the ON-switch in blind retinas: Opto-mGluR6, a next-generation, cell-tailored optogenetic tool. PLoS Biology, 2015 (in press), doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.pbio.1002143

Weitere Informationen:

http://tinyurl.com/lichtantenne

Nathalie Matter | Universität Bern
Further information:
http://www.unibe.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Another piece of Ebola virus puzzle identified
17.01.2019 | Texas Biomedical Research Institute

nachricht New scale for electronegativity rewrites the chemistry textbook
17.01.2019 | Chalmers University of Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles

The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

Im Focus: Mission completed – EU partners successfully test new technologies for space robots in Morocco

Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.

Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new twist on a mesmerizing story

17.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Brilliant glow of paint-on semiconductors comes from ornate quantum physics

17.01.2019 | Materials Sciences

Drones shown to make traffic crash site assessments safer, faster and more accurate

17.01.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>