In a "web exclusive," Scientific American has just published an in-depth article by Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, on optogenetics, a research technology he invented. Diesseroth writes:
Optogenetics is the combination of genetics and optics to control well-defined events within specific cells of living tissue. It includes the discovery and insertion into cells of genes that confer light responsiveness; it also includes the associated technologies for delivering light deep into organisms as complex as freely moving mammals, for targeting light-sensitivity to cells of interest, and for assessing specific readouts, or effects, of this optical control.
What excites neuroscientists about optogenetics is control over defined events within defined cell types at defined times - a level of precision that is most likely crucial to biological understanding even beyond neuroscience.
Deisseroth's article will also be published in an upcoming issue of Scientific American.
Previously: Using light to better understand mental illness and Using unconventional therapies to troubleshoot the brain