Nanoscope Technologies Receives Major NIH Research Grant

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Nanoscope Technologies has been awarded a bioengineering research grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance bioluminescent multicharacteristic opsin (MCO) for the simultaneous optical stimulation and large-scale monitoring of the central nervous system.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide. Dysfunctional retina due to photoreceptor degeneration, a damaged optic nerve, or enucleation of the eye leads to lack of signal transduction or transmission to the visual cortex. Currently, there is no cure to restore vision in these patients.

 Illustration of Bioluminescent Multi-Characteristic Opsin based simultaneous patterned optical stimulation (red) and large-scale monitoring (yellow) of brain activities by bioluminescence. Courtesy of Nanoscope Technologies LLC.
Illustration of bioluminescent multicharacteristic opsin based simultaneous patterned optical stimulation (red) and large-scale monitoring (yellow) of brain activities by bioluminescence. Courtesy of Nanoscope Technologies LLC.

Nanoscope scientists have developed highly photosensitive MCO that allows ambient light stimulation of retinal cells for restoring vision in patients who have lost their photoreceptors. However, individuals with loss of optic nerve or the entire eye need direct visual input into the brain to restore vision. With the support of National Eye Institute (NEI), the Nanoscope team will advance bioluminescence imaging instead of fluorescence in order to allow long-term cortical imaging without requiring external light. The team further plans to develop a neural interface capable of patterned optogenetic stimulation and bioluminescence imaging of brain areas to mitigate sensory deficits.

“The goal of this study is to implement bioluminescent multicharacteristic opsin (bMCO) technology for simultaneous optical modulation and imaging of retinal and cortical activities using spectrally separated activation and detection channels,” said Samarendra Mohanty, chief scientific officer of Nanoscope Technologies and principal investigator of the grant. “This will enable us to modulate neural activities in retina and image visual cortex with high temporal and spatial resolution, providing details about disease progression and restoration.”

The team aims to quantify changes in visual cortical activities during progression of retinal photoreceptor degeneration by bMCO using a head-mountable camera and evaluate restoration of visual cortical activities upon re-photosensitization of degenerated retina by intravitreal injection of MCO. Simultaneous measurements of cortical activities and behavior in response to visual stimulation during retinal degeneration and vision restoration will provide valuable insights into the visual processing circuitry.

“Success of this proposal will lead to development of a modular and scalable interface system with the capability to serve a multiplicity of applications to modulate and monitor large-scale activities in the nervous system,” said Subrata Batabyal, co-investigator and senior technical officer of Nanoscope Technologies.

This technology has the potential for wide-ranging implications for individuals with sensory disabilities, such as the detection and modulation of activities of sensory neurons for effectively managing pain, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders.

Nanoscope Technologies is a developer of methods and devices for scientific, industrial, and biomedical applications, providing a range of biomedical technologies that include diagnostics and therapeutic devices and molecules.

Published: October 2018
BusinessNanoscope TechnologiesNational Institutes of Healthmulticharacteristic opsinOpticsLight SourcesBiophotonicsAmericasRapidScan

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