October 01, 2013 by
ptogenetics is a rising star within the developing field of neurology. What is optogenetics? Simply put, it’s physics meets biology. In this case, it’s the insertion of a gene that encodes for a light-sensitive protein into animal neurons to ‘turn on’ certain cell activity. Think of the new protein as a chemical light switch. This method is part and parcel of the new BRAIN initiatives (here and in the EU). Many neuroscientists see the human brain as an organic computer that can be copied and/or modeled. While I’m intrigued by the prospect of learning more about how our wonderful brains work, I am horrified at the insertion of a foreign gene to accomplish it. The ability to do a thing doesn’t mean that such a thing is necessary or morally right.
You can read all about algae and the brain here: Critical tool for brain research derived from pond scum.