Optogenetics-based, Photo-switchable Model of Parkinsonís Disease for Drug Screening
Rapid Response Innovation Awards, 2014
Neurodegeneration has proven notoriously difficult to study. The main barrier to progress has been the challenging, heterogeneous nature of brain tissue. Optogenetics is a neuromodulation method that allows fast and specific bidirectional control of defined brain circuits in intact systems.†
We will use technical expertise with optogenetics to test the efficacy of deep brain stimulation and levodopa in a novel optogenetic pre-clinical model where the experimenter has complete control over onset, offset and degree of motor impairment.†
Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinsonís Disease:
If confirmed to respond to currently used therapeutical methods such as deep brain stimulation and levodopa, the optogenetic PD model can facilitate novel therapeutic discovery. Unique features of the model include compatibility with sophisticated cognitive behaviors and neuronal activity recordings not possible or difficult in a less advanced model; tunability (so it recapitulates multiple stages of the disease from mild to advanced in the same subject); and reversibility for acute exposure to light.
This model should aid drug screening for Parkinsonís with benefits that include ease-of-use, cost, reliability and reduced use of models.
Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at California Institute of Technology
Location: Pasadena, California, United States