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Int J Ophthalmol. 2012;5(4):517-22. doi: 10.3980/j.issn.2222-3959.2012.04.22. Epub 2012 Aug 18.

Optogenetics: a novel optical manipulation tool for medical investigation.

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College of Biology Engineering, Chongqing University, Chongqing 400044, China.


Optogenetics is a new and rapidly evolving gene and neuroengineering technology that allows optical control of specific populations of neurons without affecting other neurons in the brain at high temporal and spatial resolution. By heterologous expression of the light-sensitive membrane proteins, cell type-specific depolarization or hyperpolarization can be optically induced on a millisecond time scale. Optogenetics has the higher selectivity and specificity compared to traditional electrophysiological techniques and pharmaceutical methods. It has been a novel promising tool for medical research. Because of easy handling, high temporal and spatial precision, optogenetics has been applied to many aspects of nervous system research, such as tactual neural circuit, visual neural circuit, auditory neural circuit and olfactory neural circuit, as well as research of some neurological diseases. The review highlights the recent advances of optogenetics in medical study.


light-sensitive proteins; medical; optical manipulation; optogenetics

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