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Publications of the Week

Optogenetic Rewiring of Thalamocortical Circuits to Restore Function in the Stroke Injured Brain

By July 14, 2017No Comments

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 This week we profile a recent publication in Nature Communications from Dr. Craig Brown (left) and Dr. Kelly Tennant (right).

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

The primary goal of our research is to understand the mechanisms of brain repair. In particular, we are interested in how stroke and co-morbidities like diabetes disrupt neural and vascular circuits. To investigate this question, we first image the structure and function of neural connections or brain capillaries, and then based on what we discover, attempt new treatment strategies to optimize repair and recovery of brain function.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

This is the first study to characterize how stroke disrupts the structure and function of connections in a neural circuit critical for our sense of touch. Furthermore, we show that optically activating these circuits after stroke by making them express an algae protein, directly impacts their re-wiring and ultimately improves function in the stroke affected brain.

What are the next steps for this research?

We are not entirely sure yet but we would like to pair our light stimulation protocol with with specific forms of movement (rehabilitation therapy). We think this would further enhance the repair process after stroke.

This work was supported by:

CIHR, Heart and Stroke Foundation, NSERC, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and Michael Smith Foundation

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