Cells engineered to respond to radio waves contain both GFP-ferritin (green) and ion channels fused to GFP antibodies (blue). The cell membrane is shown in red. Nature 2016


Noninvasive Tool Controls Neurons

A genetically engineered nanoparticle allows scientists to turn brain cells on and off with radio waves.

BY:Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain

Optogenetics — a tool that enables researchers to control neurons with light — has transformed neuroscience. But the technique is invasive. Light is typically delivered via a fiber optic cable implanted in an animal’s brain. Researchers have developed a noninvasive alternative: a genetic system for controlling neurons that uses radio waves or magnetic fields instead of light. These signals can freely penetrate tissue, meaning the technique can be used on awake, behaving animals without invasive delivery systems.

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