Ultrasonic Sound Waves Can Control Brain Cells

Posted: Sep 16 2015, 10:30am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 16 2015, 8:45pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Ultrasonic Sound Waves can Control Brain Cells
Salk Institute Video
  • Ultrasonic sound waves can control brain cells!

Scientists at the Salk institute use sonogentics to control brain, heart and muscle cells.

Scientists from the Salk Institute have published a new study. The study claims the scientists have been successful in controlling brain cells through sound waves. The scientists used a new type of method dubbed sonogentics.

The method uses ultrasonic sound waves to activate various cells. Selective activation of brain, heart, muscle and other cells have been achieved through sonogentics.

The waves used are similar to the waves in medical sonograms. The study is basically a sound based approach to activating cells. It is claimed that the sound waves are better at cell activation than light waves.

Activation of human cells by light waves is called optogenetics. The study was published yesterday in the journal Nature Communications.

The research took place at the Salk Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory. The senior author of the study is Sreekanth Chalasani, an assistant professor. According to Chalasani the sound waves method is an additional tool.

"Light-based techniques are great for some uses and I think we're going to continue to see developments on that front," says Sreekanth Chalasani, an assistant professor in Salk's Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory and senior author of the study.

"But this is a new, additional tool to manipulate neurons and other cells in the body."

The sound waves tool will help in manipulating neurons especially in the brain. Other cells of the body also have somewhat similar effects. The research states sound waves travel through the body without scattering.

It could prove to be a major advantage when stimulating a region deep in the brain. The sound waves would also only target the brain cells and no other regions.

First of all the technique was experimented on nematode Caenorhabditis elegans neuron cells. The research showed sound waves can travel in calcium sensitive cells.

So the researchers suggested that any calcium sensitive cell can be subjected to the treatment. The researchers also firmly believe the similar responses will be achieved in human cells.

"The real prize will be to see whether this could work in a mammalian brain," Chalasani says. His group has already begun testing the approach in mice.

"When we make the leap into therapies for humans, I think we have a better shot with noninvasive sonogenetics approaches than with optogenetics."

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