Figure: Light-stimulated beating of heart muscle cells in vitro. Light flashes (blue bars) stimulate cardiac cell beating and electrical activity, which can be monitored with a voltage-sensitive dye.
© Photoswitch Biosciences Incorporated
Channelrhodopsins, first isolated by Max Planck researchers from the green algae Chlamydomonas reiinhardii in 2002, have been successfully used both in vitro and in vivo to control and study a variety of critical bioelectrical systems. Now the US company, Photoswitch Biosciences Incorporated, is developing a complete assay system specifically designed to leverage the advantages of channelrhodopsin-based optical control in drug screening and safety pharmacology studies. Genetically-engineered cell lines or stem cell derived models combined with voltage sensitive dyes and a first in class microplate reader allow unprecedented throughput and economy in assaying models of nerve and heart cell function.
The new instrumentation platform was developed partly on the basis of a non-exclusive license agreement with Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer organization of the Max Planck Society, for the use of biological photoreceptors for the direct control of light activated ion channels.
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