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Today’s post is ‘blue sky’ stuff (meaning that it is not going to be in the clinical any time soon), but it is utterly fascinating (almost sci fi) research.

Scientists at Stanford University have developed a method by which they can reprogram cells to use synthetic materials (provided by the scientists themselves) to build functional artificial structures.

And to add to the sci fi nature of it, they have called this approach “GTCA” (“genetically targeted chemical assembly”).

In today’s post, we discuss what GTCA is, what they found in their study, and where this wondrous discovery could go next.

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Prof Karl Deisseroth. Source: Ozy

This is Karl Deisseroth.

Looks like the mad scientist type, right? Well, remember his name because this guy is fast heading for a Nobel prize.

Possibly two.

He is the D. H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. And he is one of the leading researchers in a field that he basically started. That field is called optogenetics (Click here to read a previous SoPD post about this topic).

Optogenetics. Source: Harvard

He also developed (along with Kwanghun Chung) a better way of visualising the brain called CLARITY.

CLARITY is a technique that transforms intact tissue (like the brain) to make it completely transparent. With a clear brain – and some additional biological techniques – an exceptionally detailed map of neuronal pathways can be generated.

For an example, watch this video:

Prof Deisseroth and colleagues are also seeking to pioneer additional areas of neuroscience, and in today’s post we will be exploring a new research report that could have important implications for Parkinson’s.

How so?

Here on the SoPD we often discuss research focused on the slowing or stopping of Parkinson’s, but often overlooked are efforts to restore and rejuvenate. Replace the lost cells and circuits that have been lost to degeneration.

At the start of this year (in the 2020 wish list post), I said that I was hoping to see “a focus on rejuvenation”.

And it is fair to say that Prof Deisseroth and colleagues appear to be trying to deliver on that particular wish.

Interesting. What have Prof Deisseroth and his team done?

Continue reading “GTCA”