Mexican neurologist Luis Alberto Carrillo Reid works to stop the effects of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. For this, he developed a neuronal laser and photosensitive proteins technique, which “reprogram” the brain of patients, that has been tested in animal models with good results.
This technique was developed by Alberto at the Columbia University in New York, and now he plans to continue the project in Mexico. “The initial stage is already very advanced, now I am waiting for the CONACYT [National Council for Science and Technology] to approve the project, in order to establish this technology in Mexico and all of Latin America,” Carrillo said in an interview with News Agency CONACYT.
But how does it work? Optogenetics, which is the mixture of genetic and optical methods to control specific functions of cells in living tissues, is applied to turn on and off neuronal groups that affect normal functioning using light. Then microscopy, which makes visible objects that are imperceptible due to their size, is applied with a double photon to visualize and manipulate living tissues in order to activate damaged neuronal groups.
“The secret of this technique is opsins, proteins that stimulate neuronal activity through laser light directed to inactive neurons. So the laser transports the ions to the cells to promote movement and productivity,” he explained. As a result of the optical manipulation of neuronal circuits, these neurodegenerative diseases change their patterns and reverse the effects.
The brain manipulation technology has not yet been tested in humans. “We still need about five years to apply it directly to people,” he said.
In Mexico, this type of disease affects 50 people per 100,000 inhabitants annually, specifically in 2 percent of the population over 70 years old.
Source: Agencia Informativa CONACYT