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 characteristics integrated 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?


  1. It would be amazing if this opto-genetic virus could work in human cells so that mentally illnesses like depression could be eased or eliminated. I have seen and felt the effects of depressive or suicidal thoughts, so being able to help, no matter how long it takes to perfect and secure, would be tremendous. While there are definitely issues with controlling how the virus impacts the mind, this type of scientific breakthrough could benefit society for the better and help people live happy lives

  2. This is pretty interesting, it reminds me of a treatment called, stellate ganglion block, which is an old pain management treatment. They started giving this shot to people who have severe PTSD, apparently it helps block traumatic thoughts from reoccurring. I do not know much about it to really go into detail, but here is an article about it, http://www.playboy.com/articles/the-god-shot. Yes, its playboy (we're all adults here), no nudity though, sorry.