Principles of Optogenetics

Optogenetics is one of the fastest growing and most promising technologies of recent years: the use of genetically encoded elements which activity can be modulated by light has in fact completely revolutionized the manipulation and investigation of biological processes.

Optogenetic tools can provide significant improvement compared to the classical “chemical” approaches achieving a precise control of many cellular pathways and allowing the modulation of single biological processes in a not-invasive and reversible manner, with a milliseconds timescale, and a cellular specificity in a way you cannot reach with the classical drug application, or even with electrical stimulation.

Optogenetic technologies combine the two fundamental concepts of spatial resolution and temporal resolution, to obtain a technique able to control a cellular response in a fast and repetitive way, acting only on a specific gene, in a specific cell line or cell compartment.