Monday , June 5 2023

Groundbreaking tool helps to visualize neuronal activity with near-infrared light


University of Alberta professor Robert Campbell has led the development of a near-infrared fluorescent indicator for visualizing activity in neurons.

A new, groundbreaking tool for visualizing neural activity has implications for brain functions and disorders, according to new research by University of Alberta and a team of international collaborators.

The tool, named NIR-GECO1, identifies when an individual neuron is active by the presence or absence of calcium ions. "Specifically, it emits near-infrared light in the absence of calcium ions when the concentration of calcium ions increases, it turns dark," explained Robert Campbell, Professor in the Department of Chemistry and lead author of the study. "When a neuron 'fires' the concentration of calcium ions temporarily increases inside the cell. We see this as a dimming of the emitted near-infrared light."

The research builds on the previous work in Campbell's lab focused on a toolkit for visualizing and manipulating individual neurons. NIR-GECO1 is a protein encoded into DNA, making it the most useful for cultured cells in a lab or in model organisms. The technology has the potential to allow the scientists to determine the effectiveness of therapeutic drugs at better, more effective treatments for a number of pressing health conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases.

"Tissue is relatively transparent to near-infrared light, so this tool has the potential to enable researchers to visualize neuronal activity deeper within the brain than is possible," said Campbell. "This could lead to important insights in areas of learning and memory, stroke prevention and recovery, and neurodegenerative diseases."


http: // University of Alberta professor Robert Campbell has led the neurons in visualizing activity for a near-infrared fluorescent indicator of development.

Posted in: Biochemistry | Fluorescence

Tags: Brain, Calcium, Cell, DNA, Drugs, Ion, Light, Model Organisms, Neurodegenerative Diseases, Neuron, Neurons, pH, Protein, Research, Stroke

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