Researchers in Spain have developed azobenzene “photoswitches” that are able to efficiently and selectively activate neurons in brain tissue and in living nematodes, an animal model for the study of neuronal circuits (Nature Communications 10.1038/s41467-019-08796-9).
Azobenzenes are aromatic molecules that change their shape (configuration) under light excitation. Recently, researchers have designed azobenzenes conjugated with ligands that attach to neuronal channel receptors, and demonstrated control of the cell channels with infrared light. This approach means that cells located under the light beam in a tissue can be selectively and remotely activated.This has many implications. To read more, click here.