Genetics news & views from students enrolled in BIOL 2110 at Stockton University.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Seeing the Light on Opto-Genetics
An article I previously posted entitled, See-Weed?
, highlighted opto-genetics with the use of an algae extracted, light sensitive
protein Channelrhodopsin-2 in a virus injecting the photosensitive
characteristics into our brain.
When you first think Opto-genetics, visual advances may
be the first thought, because light is co-related with vision. But the science of the virus being able to add a new gene where cells will be reproduced to have the light activated characteristicsintegrated in a new area can infiltrate areas where light receptors do not normally reside. This is shown in mice video in my last article, how the virus allowed a control of movement.
However as I was thinking about the neurological
components of light, I wondered if it could be used to help fight depression.
Currently there is a market for "light boxes" where patients with
depression and bipolar receive therapy from a lighted source for 30 minutes a
day. It has proven to be effective a
scientifically grounded way to reduce depression.
What if it went a step forward and those with depression were prescribed
this virus? Dr. Deisseroth from Stanford University is heading opto-geneticstudies. He is able to "control individual signaling pathways in neurons
on a timescale of tens of milliseconds. " This magnitude of control
is unheard of in any other neuroscience field. His team is working towards
studying this field, and studying the mechanics of depression in order to
target it. A whole new market could be made of neural-prosthetic to control mood and psychology,
As I continued to research this, a slippery slope was presented as some alluded
to opto-genetics alluding to mind control. Is a slippery slope valid, would the
benefits of a potentially ultimate method for saving lives of suicidal individuals
be worthy? Should all of society have access to a uniform happiness and influx
of serotonin? Are we already controlling our mind with the large amount of
SSRI's being prescribed? Is it necessarily a bad thing?