Rethinking therapies, screening methods and biotechnological processes with optogenetics

08 July 2019

Optogenetics - this young research discipline deals with the control of biological processes on a cellular level with the help of light. At the LABVOLUTION trade fair (May 21st – 23rd, 2019, in Hannover), PhotonicNet4Lab, BioRegioN Netzwerk LifeSciences Niedersachsen and the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) presented optogenetics and its potential to the specialist audience and the interested public at the OptogenetikMeetsLabvolution Forum.

The focus of the OptogenetikMeetsLabvolution Forum, which took place on May 21st, 2019, as part of the Biotechnica Forum, was on the future application fields, technologies and tools. Experts from various fields of research presented innovative projects and products. In addition to a lecture on the general functioning of optogenetics by Professor Alexander Heisterkamp (Leibniz Universität Hannover), Robert Zweigerdt of the Hannover Medical School (MHH) explained an optogenetic method for the contraction of heart muscles. Whether this method can also be applied to skeletal muscles is currently being investigated by one of the project partners.

An optogenetics starter kit for research was presented by Fabian Will of LLS Rowiak LaserLabSolutions GmbH. This kit is to provide the customer with both the optical and the biological components to set up an optogenetic experiment quickly and user-friendly.

Also present were the up-and-coming start-ups Opto Biolabs and OptoGenTech. For example, Opto Biolabs has developed a prototype that enables the simple performance of optogenetic experiments by flow cytometry and can easily be implemented in an existing laboratory infrastructure. OptoGenTech is working on the development of flexible μLED arrays for the stimulation of optogenetic channels. A visionary application of these arrays is the optical cochlear implant, which is intended to allow a significantly improved hearing in comparison to conventional cochlear implants.

The Innovationsforum Optogenetik – Technologien und Potenziale (INOTEP), which took place in Hannover on November 28th – 29th,2017, for the first time offered a platform for networking the stakeholders from the disciplines relevant to optogenetics, such as optical technologies, genetics, biology and medical technology. As part of the PhotonicNet4lab, the LZH and PhotonicNet joined forces to continue actively shaping the promising research field of optogenetics, to continue projects, to initiate ideas and to bring project partners together.