Optogenetics in preclinical neuroscience and psychiatry research: recent insights and potential applications
Ross A McDevitt,1 Sean J Reed,2 Jonathan P Britt2,3
1Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD, USA; 2Integrated Program in Neuroscience, Montreal Neurological Institute, 3Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada
Abstract: There have been significant advances in the treatment of psychiatric disease in the last half century, but it is still unclear which neural circuits are ultimately responsible for specific disease states. Fortunately, technical limitations that have constrained this research have recently been mitigated by advances in research tools that facilitate circuit-based analyses. The most prominent of these tools is optogenetics, which refers to the use of genetically encoded, light-sensitive proteins that can be used to manipulate discrete neural circuits with temporal precision. Optogenetics has recently been used to examine the neural underpinnings of both psychiatric disease and symptom relief, and this research has rapidly identified novel therapeutic targets for what could be a new generation of rational drug development. As these and related methodologies for controlling neurons ultimately make their way into the clinic, circuit-based strategies for alleviating psychiatric symptoms could become a remarkably refined approach to disease treatment.
Keywords: optogenetics, depression, anxiety, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder
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