Paralyzed mouse legs move with burst of light | Science News

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Paralyzed mouse legs move with burst of light

Neural patch turns on muscles when blue light shines

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2:00pm, April 3, 2014

POWER OF LIGHT  After implanting light-responsive motor neurons (green) into a mouse’s paralyzed thigh, researchers could activate leg muscles with a flash of blue light. 

Scientists can now control muscles with light. By combining advances from several fields, researchers created neurons that could be activated with light and implanted the cells onto damaged nerves in mice. A brief flash of blue light spurred formerly silent mouse muscles to life, scientists report in the April 4 Science.

The results demonstrate how the disparate fields of stem cell biology and optogenetics, which uses light to activate specially designed cells, might form the basis of new therapies for people with movement problems. One near-term goal of the project is to help people with nerve damage regain the ability to control muscles, says study coauthor Linda Greensmith of University College London. Light-triggered motor neurons might, for instance, reinstate the ability to breathe or swallow in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, who lose control of their

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