Minimally-Invasive and Activity Dependent Control of Excitable Neurons (Case 2333)

Minimally Invasive Optogenetic Control of Excitable Neurons

Optogenetics uses light to modulate excitable cells containing light-sensitive ion channels, known as opsins When activated by light, opsins cause depolarization or hyperpolarization of cell membranes, resulting in cellular excitation or silencing on a short time scale.  Our minimally invasive bioluminescence-driven optogenetic technology could be used to treat a range of diseases and conditions in excitable cells, including those associated with bursting (brief periods of high-frequency action potential activity).
Market Opportunity
Polarization of excitable cells (e.g., neurons) plays a role in the symptoms of various diseases and conditions, including Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, sleep, and sensory-related conditions such as pain and attention deficit disorders. For example, increases in bursting are prominent in epilepsy and Parkinson's disease. Existing optogenetic approaches typically regulate the activity of cells in a tissue en masse, also affecting the activity of other cells not in need of regulation. In addition, the delivery of light often requires the use of fully or partially implanted devices. There is a need for minimally invasive methods of targeted optogenetic control, preferably automatic, that require little input from patient or medical personnel.
Innovation and Meaningful Advantages
Our methodology involves expressing a light-gated ion channel in a subpopulation of cells and expressing a luminescent protein in the same, a different, or overlapping subpopulation of excitable cells. When the cells expressing the luminescent protein are exposed to peripheral injection of luciferin, they produce light with single cell resolution and activate cells expressing the light-gated channel. The population of excitable cells in the tissue thus can become self-regulating.  Potential clinical applications include shutting down overexcited neurons at the onset of an epileptic seizure, normalizing brain activity in Parkinson’s disease, and helping to regulate insulin production in the pancreas by acting as a sensor for low blood sugar.

Collaboration Opportunity
We are interested in exploring 1) startup opportunities with investors in the biotech space; 2) research collaborations with leading biotech companies to develop this technology; and 3) licensing opportunities with biotech companies.

Principal Investigator
Christopher Moore, PhD
Professor of Neuroscience
Associate Director of the Carney Institute of Brain Science
Brown University

IP Information
US2018/0044397A1; patent pending, 2015-01-22 priority date.
Brown ID 2333J

Gomez-Ramirez M, More AI, Friedman NG, Hochgeschwender U, Moore CI.  BioLuminescentā€OptoGenetic in vivo response to coelenterazine is proportional, sensitive, and specific in neocortex. Journal of Neuroscience Research. 2019 Sept 23;98(3);471-80.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Brown Technology Innovations
350 Eddy Street - Box 1949
Providence, RI 02903
Christopher Moore
Ute Hochgeschwender
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