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Biotech

Light Could Make Paralyzed Limbs Move 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the walking-on-sunshine dept.
Zothecula writes "In a study that could eventually restore movement to humans' paralyzed limbs, researchers at California's Stanford University have used light to induce muscle contractions in mice. A gene derived from algae was inserted into the mice, encoding a light-sensitive protein which adhered to their nerve cell surfaces. Scientists then placed an 'optical cuff' lined with tiny, inwards-facing LEDs around the mice's sciatic nerves. By penetrating those nerves with brief, high-intensity bursts of blue light, they were able to produce muscle contractions similar to those that would occur naturally. The technology is called 'optogenetics.'"

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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