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Patterned optical activation of retinal ganglion cells (Optistim)
Start date: 01 Aug 2008, End date: 31 Jul 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Direct activation of retinal ganglion cells is a promising approach for treating blindness resulting from degenerative diseases of the outer retina. Current neuro-retinal stimulation interfaces being developed use electrical currents from micro-electrode arrays, but future systems could use light patterns to create spatio-temporally complex activity patterns. We will develop, optimize and test different concepts allowing patterned optical stimulation of large populations of retinal ganglion cells based on emerging methods for light-based neuro-stimulation, including glutamate uncaging and ectopic expression of the light-sensitive ion channel Channelrhodopsin II. A series of in vitro and in vivo experiments will examine basic questions regarding the efficacy and safety of this general approach. Our experiments will define the major engineering requirements and constraints towards the development of a light-based approach for restoring vision in individuals with outer-retinal degenerative diseases.
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