Optogenetics is one of the hottest tools in biomedical research today, a method that uses gene therapy to deliver light-sensitive proteins into specific cells. This new tool allows researchers to interact with a single cell or a network of cells with exquisite precision. Whereas imaging and other technologies allow researchers to watch the brain in action, optogenetics enables them to influence those actions.
With this innovative technique, it is now possible to record neuronal activity during and between seizures, and to test causality and identify potential new therapeutic approaches. Further research could lead to the development of new therapies that could aid more than 300,000 Americans who live with uncontrolled seizures.
A new study (Platform Session C.03) that will be featured at the American Epilepsy Society’s (AES) 68th Annual Meeting examines the reliability of optogenetics as a method of intervention of temporal lobe seizures, and the role the cerebellum may play in hippocampal function and seizure reduction. Researchers at the University of California Irvine utilized custom-designed software to detect and record chronic, spontaneous seizures in the hippocampus of a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy.
“These findings are really exciting,” said Dr. Esther Krook-Magnuson, Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California Irvine. “They demonstrate that two brain structures not typically thought to interact can powerfully influence each other, and that the cerebellum could be a good target for intervention in epilepsy.”
The data collected from this study shows the incredible potential for developing novel optogenetics treatments for epilepsy and provides strong support for further research.
American Epilepsy Society