Optogenetic control of muscle function

Dr. Ivo Lieberam
Optogenetic control of muscle function
28th November, 1pm
My main interest is the formation and restoration of neuromuscular circuitry. In collaboration with
Linda Greensmith (UCL Institute of Neurology), we are developing a novel strategy to replace
degenerated central neurons with an artificial control system which combines stem-cell derived
neuron implants and optogenetics. Our approach is aimed at restoring muscle function in people
suffering from muscle paralysis due to a broad range of causes including spinal cord injury and
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Channelrhodopsin-2 expressing motor neurons grafted into a
lesioned peripheral nerve in adult mice robustly reinnervated muscles, and reconstituted muscle
function in a finely-controllable manner using optical stimulation. In our initial proof-of-principle
study, we were able to show that this new type of body-machine interface works in vivo, and we
believe that it has enormous translational potential in neural prosthetics. Most immediately, given
the rhythmic neuronal control and the fatal consequences of respiratory muscle paralysis, it could
be used in an optical respiratory pacemaker.